IMF’s West African Regional Technical Assistance Center Sees Significant Increase in Activities in Coming YearPress Release No. 13/168
April 29, 2013
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) Regional Technical Assistance Center for West Africa (West AFRITAC) has remained on track throughout an eventful year and foresees a significant increase in its activities for the financial year starting May 1, 2013. Meanwhile, an external evaluation has underlined the relevance and effectiveness of the technical assistance delivered.
West AFRITAC’s Steering Committee met in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, on April 29, 2013, with Senegal in the chair, to review the implementation of the work program for the financial year ending April 30, 2013, approve the program for the next financial year (FY 2014), and discuss the findings of the external evaluation. Officials from nine of the 10 member countries attended,1 together with representatives of regional institutions (Banque Centrale des États de l’Afrique de l’Ouest—BCEAO; West African Economic and Monetary Union—WAEMU Commission; Observatoire Économique et Statistique d’Afrique Subsaharienne--AFRISTAT), donors (Canada, France, Germany, and the European Union), and IMF staff.
Opening the meeting of the Steering Committee, Mr. Abdourahmane Cissé, Chief of Staff of the Minister at the Côte d’Ivoire Prime Minister’s Office in charge of Economy and Finance, highlighted the quality and flexibility of the technical support received by his country from the Center. He paid tribute to the crucial role of the technical assistance provided by the Center for implementing the Côte d’Ivoire government’s program of reforms and for building the capacity of the economic and financial administrations of his country, in particular the development of risk-based inspection to accelerate customs clearance procedures, the build-up of his ministry’s capacity to conduct debt sustainability analyses and to formulate medium-term debt strategies, and the project to improve the short-term economic indicators, and the production of quarterly national accounts. He expressed his conviction that the work of the Steering Committee would pave the way to an additional deployment of resources and to increased effectiveness of the Center, with a view to accelerating capacity building in favor of the countries of the region and to supporting their efforts at integration within the WAEMU.
Following the meeting, Mr. Aliou Faye, Director of Senegal’s Center of Political Studies for Development and representative of the Minister of Finance of Senegal, Chair of the West AFRITAC Steering Committee, and Jean Le Dem, Director of West AFRITAC, made the following joint statement:
“Members of the West AFRITAC Steering Committee applauded the Center’s performance during the current financial year, in particular its remaining on track despite an eventful year marked by the upheavals in Mali and in Guinea-Bissau, the Center’s earlier-than-planned move to Abidjan, and the turnover of two-thirds of its personnel. Noting the slight decline in the volume of technical assistance compared with that of the previous year, and the acceleration of activities during the second half of the year, they expressed confidence in the Center’s ability to carry out its activities during the coming financial year to meet the major needs of its member states.
“The Steering Committee underlined the results achieved in some member countries because of the Center’s support, especially the establishment of Customs Investigations Divisions and post-customs clearance procedures, the effective launch of medium-sized taxpayer offices, the design of a supporting tool for public wage bill forecasting, the production of national accounts compliant with international standards, and the formulation of medium-term debt strategies.
“The Steering Committee endorsed the FY 2014 work program that marks the continuity of the Center’s technical support within the framework of numerous multiyear technical assistance projects, as well as the development of the Center’s activities in several topic areas. Among the latter, special mention was made of the support to regional institutions, in particular for the implementation of Basel II international standards for bank capitalization and the building of banking supervision capacity, as well as the development of technical assistance support for macroeconomic analysis and forecasting.
“The Steering Committee welcomed the very strong appraisal of the Center by independent experts (in an evaluation report that was presented to it during the meeting) as regards to relevance, effectiveness, and efficiency. It also appreciated the marked progress recorded since the previous evaluation in 2008 in these three areas, as well as in the sustainability of the technical assistance delivered. This improvement was particularly noteworthy given a shortfall in anticipated financing and disruptions to work plans as a result of the political upheavals in the region. The active consultations with member countries and the sound coordination with IMF staff and the other development partners in the region “enabled the Center to produce a very appropriate set of technical assistance projects,” the evaluation report said. The Steering Committee discussed the recommendations to make the Center’s management more results-based (an approach already adopted by West AFRITAC, the first of the IMF’s Regional Technical Assistance Centers to have introduced logical frameworks for its multiyear projects), especially in the design, implementation, and monitoring of projects, with a view to obtaining measurable and sustainable results.”
The Center is a member of the AFRITAC Initiative, bringing together five regional technical assistance centers in sub-Saharan Africa. That Initiative came into being in 2002, following the request made by African policy makers meeting within the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) to the IMF to help strengthen the institutional and human capacities of their states for the design and implementation of economic policies apt to accelerate economic growth and stem poverty. Launched in 2003, West AFRITAC has been based in Abidjan since 2012. It acts in areas of competence of the IMF, namely, customs and tax administrations, expenditure management, macroeconomic and financial statistics, public debt management, and banking supervision and control. The activities of West AFRITAC are carried out essentially in the form of technical assistance missions, national workshops, and regional seminars for the benefit of the member countries and regional organizations, in particular, the WAEMU Commission and the BCEAO.
1 West AFRITAC’s member countries are: Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, and Togo.