Africa Training Institute Opening Ceremony
Remarks by Min Zhu, Deputy Managing Director, International Monetary Fund
Ebene, Mauritius, June 26, 2014
As prepared for delivery
Your Excellency Mr. Rajkeswur Purryag, President of the Republic of Mauritius, Distinguished Guests, [Excellencies], Ladies and Gentlemen:
Nearly three years ago, in October 2011, I had the honor to attend the opening ceremony of the Africa Regional Technical Assistance Center South, commonly known by its acronym, “AFRITAC South”. Since then, AFRITAC South has grown into a leading center for coordinating and delivering technical assistance to the Southern Africa region.
The beauty of Mauritius and the hospitality of its people ensure that everyone who has once visited this island wants to come back again and again.
But today, in addition to enjoying once again the beauty and hospitality of this country, I am honored and delighted to participate in the event that raises capacity development in Africa to a new level: the official opening of the Africa Training Institute (ATI). I am sure that all those present share this feeling of delight and pride.
The opening of the ATI would not have been possible without the involvement and commitment of the government of Mauritius.
- I would like to use this opportunity to thank the Mauritian government for its critical role in making this Institute a reality.
- I remember well that at the AFRITAC South opening in 2011, the Government explicitly called on the IMF to also set up a regional training facility in Africa. In particular, the keynote address said: “Capacity building requires both technical assistance and training and it is odd that Africa which needs training the most is the only region without an IMF Training Facility.”
The government of Mauritius has followed its words with action.
- In 2012, Mauritius stepped forward in response to the IMF’s invitation to the countries of sub-Saharan Africa to host a regional training center.
- By doing this and contributing substantial financial resources to the creation of the center, the government of Mauritius—a middle income country—has demonstrated its far-sighted vision and commitment to the creation of a knowledge center for the region.
We are also grateful to the Australian and Chinese authorities for supporting the establishment of the center. Thanks to the combined effort of all donors, Africa Training Institute now takes its well-deserved place next to other regional training centers in Austria, Kuwait, and Singapore.
While I mentioned the other training centers, the ATI is a new type of institution.
- Its location in Mauritius and next door to AFRITAC South provides ATI with a unique opportunity to develop synergies between training and technical assistance.
- It therefore serves as an embodiment of the IMF’s new integrated and holistic approach to capacity development, spearheaded by the IMF Institute for Capacity Development (ICD). Under this new approach the IMF aims at developing capacity in both institutions and people, by bringing training and technical assistance more closely together.
- As you have seen, and as a first step in this new approach, the ATI shares the same building with AFRITAC South, and the ATI Director also has the responsibility of being a regional coordinator for AFRITAC South.
- However, the opportunities go far beyond these logistical advantages. Africa now benefits from a whole network of regional technical assistance centers – apart from AFRITAC South, there are two AFRITACs in the West, one in the East, and one in Central Africa. The ATI will fit into this network, which will greatly enhance capacity development in Africa.
The opening of the ATI will allow to rebalance the capacity development in Africa by providing more training, while keeping the TA delivery at the current high level.
- During the last 5 years, the volume of TA delivery to SSA countries increased by almost 70 percent. In FY2014, SSA accounted for almost 40 percent of total IMF TA delivery in the world.
- At the same time, the lack of a regional training center did not allow the delivery of training to Africa to reach the same intensity. In FY2014, SSA accounted for less than 20 percent of total IMF training (in terms of the total number of participants).
The opening of the ATI comes at a time when countries of sub-Saharan Africa are facing important economic and social challenges, and the ATI is well positioned to help African authorities to tackle these challenges.
- Even though growth in the region is picking up, there are downside risks to the near- and long-term outcomes. Some of these risks are driven by external factors (growth in the rest of the world may prove less robust than expected, and global financial conditions may tighten again), but some are driven by domestic policies (rising fiscal imbalances in some countries, elevated current account deficits). A sustained effort is needed to preserve macroeconomic stability that underpins growth.
- Like most developing economies in the world, African countries are facing the challenge of making growth more inclusive, to ensure that it benefits all African people, and thus supports social stability.
- Looking ahead, as African economies grow and reach higher income levels, they will start facing new, perhaps not less challenging, problems – problems that are faced by many Middle Income countries around the world. They will have to deal with capital inflows, deepening financial system, and increasing complexity of their financial markets. This in turn would require stronger institutions and high skill levels of the government, to be able to manage these new and more complex financial sector risks.
- In coordination with stakeholders and other training providers on the continent, the IMF will ensure that the ATI training program aligns with the challenges faced by the region in the coming years, by providing practical training in support of sound macroeconomic policies.
- Key components of the training program already go in this direction, with training on issues of particular importance for many sub-Saharan African countries, such as inclusive growth policies; financial inclusion; macroeconomic management and natural resource management; financial sector regulation; and economic and monetary integration.
Let me conclude by emphasizing that, while the ATI was established by the IMF and the government of Mauritius, with the support of other donors, it is open for everyone.
- Our vision for the ATI is to become a true partnership with the African governments and with regional and global development partners. Because of its state-of-the-art facilities and capability to provide training in both English and French, the ATI is a unique institution that can bring the whole continent together.
- Going forward, we invite other organizations and donors to participate in the activities of the ATI, not only by providing financial support, but also by providing additional course offerings, and participating in joint events.
- The ATI is only starting its operations, and we hope that it will grow significantly over time, to reach its full potential. I am confident that our joint efforts will ensure that the growing demand for training in Africa is met, and that together we will succeed in making the Africa Training Institute a true center of excellence for capacity development.
Thank you for your attention and continued support.