Burkina Faso and the IMF
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"It has been a great pleasure to have had the opportunity to come to Burkina Faso. During my two visits to Africa as the Managing Director of the IMF, I have also visited Gabon, Nigeria, South Africa and Uganda. I have now had the privilege of discussing the challenges of economic development and the role of the Fund with about half the leaders in sub-Saharan Africa during these listening tours. And by doing this, I have met the goal I set for myself when I joined the Fund of consulting widely in Africa. I have been gratified to hear from Africa's leaders that they have a deep appreciation of the contribution of the IMF, and of the dedication and professionalism of its staff.
"I can offer a number conclusions from these consultations. First, the Fund is fully engaged in Africa and committed to playing its part in the continent's progress. Our contribution is primarily through promoting macroeconomic stabilization, which is an essential foundation for growth, and, to this end, we are looking at new instruments to fill the gaps in the assistance we provide to Africa. There is no doubt that the international community also has to play its part by providing more effective support to developing countries—both through higher and more predictable aid and through more open trade policies. The IMF will continue to remind industrial countries of their responsibilities in these areas.
"My travel has also allowed me to see first hand some of the impressive gains Africa has made in recent years. During the last decade, many African countries have made important progress in macroeconomic stabilization. Inflation rates have fallen significantly, macroeconomic imbalances have moderated, and the resilience to external shocks has been strengthened. Looking ahead, I expect the strengthening global recovery to benefit Africa: we anticipate economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa to reach above 4½ percent this year and above 5 percent in 2005. However, the challenges facing Africa remain enormous.
"I am grateful to President Compaoré for inviting me to the African Union's Extraordinary Summit on Employment and Poverty Reduction in Africa, which has yielded valuable insights.
At the Summit, I was strongly encouraged by the commitment of all African leaders to tackle our common challenge to find ways to build on the foundation of macroeconomic stability: to build a future with more growth, employment, higher living standards, and less poverty, ill health, and deprivation.
"A wide spectrum of leaders assured me that they will strive harder to gear policies in their countries toward the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals within the framework of the Monterrey Consensus, which recognizes that the success in fighting poverty requires efforts from developing and industrial countries alike. I pledged that the IMF, under my leadership, is committed to continuing to provide Africa with the full force of its activities in Africa—policy advice, capacity building, and financial assistance—to reach our shared objectives of creating jobs, raising economic growth, and fighting poverty on the continent. I also noted that in the immediate period ahead the Fund will examine ways to increase the effectiveness of our work in low income countries, and I hope to be able to share these conclusions with you in due course.
"In closing, I would like to note that harnessing Africa's immense potential is a global priority for the 21st century. This is also one of my goals as Managing Director of the IMF."
IMF EXTERNAL RELATIONS DEPARTMENT