Transcript of the African Finance Ministers Press Conference

October 11, 2014

Washington, D.C.
Saturday, October 11, 2014

Bedoumra Kordje, Minister of Finance and Budget, Chad
Geraldo Joao Martins, Minister of Economy and Finance, Guinea
Henry Rotich, Treasury Secretary, Kenya
Kaifala Marah, Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Sierra Leone
Ismaila Dieng, IMF Communications Department

Webcast of the press conference Webcast

MR. DIENG: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to the 2014 African Finance Ministers Press Conference here at the Annual Meetings of the IMF and the World Bank. I am Ismaila Dieng from the Communications Department of the IMF. Joining me today: Minister Kaifala Marah from Sierra Leone, Henry Rotich from Kenya, Geraldo Joao Martins from Guinea-Bissau, and Bedoumra Kordje from Chad.

Each of our Ministers will have short opening remarks and then we'll open it up to your questions. So without further ado I'll hand it over to Minister Marah.

MR. MARAH: Good morning. Thank you so much for having us here. It really is good that opportunities of this nature are provided for us to be able to share our country's perspective, but most importantly how Africa is inter-related and how things roll out.

I wish to drill down on what is it that is affecting Sierra Leone today and the region that is comprising Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. But most importantly I'll focus on Sierra Leone. And I know that it has been the topic of the day, Ebola. But before I give you exactly the social and economic of Ebola not only on Sierra Leone but on the South region let me first provide you an overview as to where we really were before Ebola struck, just so that you begin to understand the nexus between where we really were and where the situation is right now. No doubt all of us are aware that Sierra Leone went through a brutal civil conflict for about 12 years. And after that when President Koroma was elected in 2007 he adopted the agenda for change. The successor program to that is the agenda for prosperity. What happened during the first quarter of this year is that the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon went to Sierra Leone and says well, you are on the path, you know, to resilient, the UN mission should fold up, which was a clear signal that we are moving towards becoming a resilient state. But most importantly he says well, your middle income country status target is set for 2035, but can you not bring it down a bit, bring it forward given the progress you have made so that it could be in sync with that of the World Bank poverty strategy. We said fine, we'll go back to the drawing board and do some recalibration. But what fueled our growth was the mining sector. And all of us are aware that for the last few years Sierra Leone had been recognized to be one of the fastest growing economies. Our growth for this year was set for 11.3 percent. We were doing well. And our macroeconomic fundamentals were also strong. We had a new issue of program with the IMF and in December of last year we met all structural quantity to benchmarks.

When I was appointed Minister of Finance in December of 2012 interest rates on domestic securities for example 49 to 1 days was 19 percent and we decided to go for zero [inaudibe]. It yields that dividend. Today domestic interest rates range between one and three percent only. So the fundamentals were there. We are doing well on roads, on energy, on tourism, on agriculture, and FDI flows are also good. We are able to attract major companies. We have Siva, we have Socfin, we have Goldtree. All of them. And recently we had Radisson. So we felt that we had reached a point there was a need to review our strategy, to begin to think about bringing forward our middle income country status attainment. But you didn't work.

Then came Ebola in May and everything was reversed. So where are we today? Ebola has made me begin to appreciate and understand that fragility is self reinforcing. Because if we had had the right infrastructure, the right institutions, and the right human capacity to be able to confront Ebola, we wouldn't have suffered as we have right now. So GDP growth rate as we anticipate that was 11.3, we did our initial assessment; we came to realize well maybe it will be around 7 percent. Unfortunately, clear cut reality shows that that is impossible. So it's now over around three to four percent and it could be worse soon. Unfortunately, London mining, one of the major iron ore companies is about to go down. So that has further exacerbated the situation. Manufacturing is bad. Sierra Leone Brewery Limited for example is set to lose 24,000 jobs and will affect 600 farmers that are producing Sorghum. Cocoa and coffee which happens to account for 90 percent of agro export is also at the bottom now. Why? Because people have abandoned their farms. Everybody is running way from Ebola.

For construction it also is bad because many of the contractors have abandoned their sites, both for roads and other construction activities. They are all going down. Tourism, our initial assessment was that tourism was dropped at about 30 percent. We were wrong. It's now between 50 and 60 percent. Air travels all of us know is about to stagnate and strangulate the whole South region. We've been isolated. Whether that is a global best practice or strategy, someone has to advise us, but it's really killing our economies. And so we seem to be isolated. And I call it by default or design; it really is an economic embargo. Whether we like it to not but that is the reality on the ground. And so therefore revenues have dropped tremendously. Initially we thought it would be about $50 million. We were wrong. Expenditure continues to spiral because we didn't budget to be able to respond to Ebola.

Inflation too has been affected. In December 2012 inflation was about 12 percent, but because of the rigorous and strong strategies that we adopted as a government, inflation dropped. At about June this year it was at about 6.4 percent. But it has spiraled again, now it's about 67.4 percent. So, the economy continues to go the downward spiral and it really is not good, but for us as a country, for Liberia as neighbors, and for Guinea as well. Regional trade we have been advised will be affected up to levels of $50 billion within the MRU (Mano River Union) alone. Now welcome the current situation. The world has responded. It has been slow and it has been late. But we are delighted that the world has recognized that Ebola is not only a sub-regional thing, it's a global challenge. It's a challenge to humanity. So we welcome the UNMEER initiative, the trust fund that has been established by the UN. We welcome the British that are now on the ground, welcome the Cubans, welcome the Chinese, welcome, you know, support being provided by other economies across Europe and elsewhere, and by other agencies. It really is good. When President Kim recently says that they will put together a package to build these three countries out that came as welcome news. And we're delighted that some of the economies including the U.S. are saying that it will provide Medivac facilities for those that will be going there to fight on the front line to kick out Ebola.

So where are we at the moment? What will be our strategy and how will we respond after Ebola? Because the truth is every gain that we have made has been lost. So we are now working on a post Ebola economic recovery strategy. The three ministers of finance of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone met recently and we have decided that we'll come with a holistic strategy that we'll share with our partners, both bilateral and multilateral to be able to chip into that. And we do hope this time around they'll listen to us so that we'll use country strategies to be able to help our countries out. But, you know, I'm delighted to be here this morning with you, our friends from the media. And, just so that I ask you to do this. You know, it is one thing to report a situation but it is quite another to destroy the potential of another country. These are small post conflict countries, fragile, who've been working very hard. Now to reverse our gap situation of a civil conflict, to become a fastest growing economy meant that people are out there were doing well. It meant that while those in the developed economies were working on gaps at three or four we are at six or seven. Working day and night to ensure that we uplift our economies, to move our people out of poverty so that will become economy inclusive. But the way Ebola has been sensationalized, the way you have globalized fear in people, the way it has been related is not fair to this operation. And, you know, often times when it is you hold a pen which is mightier than a sword and that you know that whatever you say or do will impact lives of people in far flung areas, people who have had no opportunity to even go to school. And that the leaders have been trying to get these people out of poverty, it really is good to sit back and begin to internalize, am I doing the right thing. Think about it.

MR. ROTICH: Thank you very much. And again let me also join my colleague to thank you for this opportunity also to address the press on the 2014 Annual Meetings. Let me start with the global outlook and what we have seen and what we have been told what's happening. I think we share the analysis and of course the concern that growth continues to remain weak globally. Of course, there is a divergent recovery from across the region. We of course welcome the growth from the U.S. which is recovery, but what is of course in the Euro area where the threat of deflation. The Euro area is important for our economies particularly in Kenya where most of our exports actually distinct to that. Of course, Japan also is our major trading partner and the weak demand that has been also our concern. I think in emerging economies we are also worried by the slowdown and because of also the tightening conditions and the geopolitical tensions. We, in the Sub Saharan Africa, we just keep for us. As Kenya we export quite a number of products to this region. At least growth is still strong, but has weakened because of just what my colleague has said. The challenges of Ebola which we share fully the concerns that what it's doing for the countries that are affected, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea. We share fully the challenges that they are facing and we know that they have made very huge progress in terms of their growth, but to get this setback is really unfortunate. It is also having a spillover to our regions. For example in Kenya we have had tourism cancellations. It has affected our growth. We have revised our growth down this year just because of the challenge of the tourism cancellations we have received and also of course Kenya being a regional hub we've seen transportation being affected. So, despite the fact that it's also affecting the countries where the challenges manifest, this is also spilling over to the reign and affecting our overall outlook in terms of growth.

Just to say something about Kenya. Of course we're still growing. It's a bit of renewed confidence after our general elections last year. We've seen a lot of investor interest in our region and economic growth remains resilient despite the challenges that are mentioned. The tourism which is not doing quite well. Also we had some threats on drought. But of overall our growth becomes resilient thanks to the strong domestic demand. We are spending a lot on infrastructure. This is also helping to sustain the growth and we need it; we need the infrastructure to continue expanding our economies and address the weak challenges to our competitiveness. And so we'll continue to do that, and of course knowing the threats that are coming from Ebola and also the global situation which is focused to continue to remain weak. We are also a country which we have access to international capital markets. We issued a huge bond, $2 million. We are cognizant of the challenges of what a global economy portrays, especially with a monetary normalization. We know that there is clearly a threat, but interests are going to begin to rise. But we continue to take the opportunity of the prevailing circumstances for us to continue access to international market to deal with the infrastructure gaps that we face in the region. But of course we are cognizant to pursue the right policies at this particular juncture. In terms of the macroeconomic stability, we want to preserve that and we have been preserving this. Our interest rates, our exchange rates, interest rates remain fairly stable, and we continue to want to continue to preserve that going forward.

I just want to mention that we welcome the support the IMF and the World Bank has provided to countries to countries that have been affected by Ebola threats. The $130 million that have been supported by the IMF. It's welcome, it's timely, but not enough as has already been mentioned. We call upon more support for that. Also the World Bank, I know they have acted, but of course again it's too late, not enough. But we'd like more support to the region just of course to sustain their growth but also to mitigate the effects that it's having on the region. We are also working in Kenya to come up with a new facility for Kenya. We have not entered into another arrangement with the IMF but we are discussing. And we want a facility that will continue to ensure us from any vulnerabilities that we face. We are currently discussing that facility, but we do expect that the IMF will continue to review their lending arrangement to suit our countries, which are becoming highly dynamic. We are moving as a frontier economies toward emerging markets and the lending facilities also needs to be flexible enough for us to access them at varying times. So as we discussed the programs with the IMF we also do welcome them to continue reviewing their programs to fit into our dynamic economist. Lastly the TA (technical assistance) they continue to provide is still necessary especially at this particular juncture when the global environment is becoming challenging and we welcome the IMF to step up that tier support.

MR. MARTINS: Well, good morning, everyone. Good morning everyone. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to share with you some information about Guinea-Bissau, a country that has just come back to the Council of Nations. When we talk about Guinea-Bissau, I think what goes through most people's minds is the fragility and the instability of its institutions. In fact, the country has been affected by successive situations of political instability which harmed its institutions, deepened its fragility and added to the population's poverty. But today, we are here to give you a very different message. And what we want to tell you today is to tell you about a country that quite likely has already left behind all of these difficult situations. After the last coup in April 2012 our country went through a rather difficult political transition, but thanks to national efforts and with the support of the international community it has been possible to organize general elections in April 2014 which were considered by the wide majority of international observers as being free and fair. And after these elections, the results of these elections was that all of the organizations, the institutions were elected. The popular national assembly started its work with 112 members of Parliament. The president of the Republic was elected and the government was thus constituted. Today, the country has a leadership and has a vision. This leadership is centered around the President of the Republic, the Prime minister, and its institutions. I want to tell you here that the leadership of the President of the Republic was underscored recently by his decision to dismiss the leader of the armies not only because he was involved in the last coup, but also because he seemed to have problems with the United States in terms of drug trafficking. He was accused by the U.S. of drug trafficking. So the courage demonstrated by the President of the Republic in dismissing his army chief shows his commitment to an open government. This is a government that is now formed by 31 members of whom I am part and despite the fact that PAGC have won with an absolute majority the Prime minister did understand that there should be a spirit of national reconciliation and this spirit of reconciliation worked because we invited elements of the opposition leaders of the main opposition parties to be part of the government. And the government of today's Guinea-Bissau is a government of national unity, a government formed by all of the political entities of our country.

On the economic side, I also would like to give you some information. The macroeconomic situation of Guinea-Bissau is difficult. The coup of April 2012 interrupted an economic growth cycle that had been occurring. In 2012, the country had about 5.3 percent growth, but when the 2012 coup occurred economic growth dropped and the country fell back 2.5 percent in that one year. In 2013, we had a rather anemic growth with a 0.3 percent growth, and in 2014 we expect that the growth rate could be around 2.5 percent. Of course, all of this reflects the fragility of the institutions and the difficult situation that the country went through in the last few years. And this is why when this government came into power it was decided to set up a program in three phases. The first one, which was the emergency program, aimed at responding to the critical demands of the people of our country. This emergency program included paying salaries that were behind. When the government came into power three months ago the people had before four and seven months of salary unpaid, so the government was able to pay this back pay. There was a situation where electrical energy in the capital had completely fallen apart. And with the efforts being made the hydroelectric capacity now is increasing. There were also concerns about education. The educational system with its problems was not functioning properly and the school children were not going to finish the school year. Now we're able to allow the children to finish the school year in 2014 and now we are preparing the 2014-15 school year in the best conditions possibly. And finally in the area of health we had great difficulties with threats such as cholera and Ebola of course. And the government with the support of the international community was able to set up a contingency plan. Fortunately to this day we have not had one single case of Ebola and hope that with this contingency plan we will continue to work for the prevention of this epidemic. Along these same lines the government also adopted a contingency plan in order to review some contracts that were signed in the recent past in various economic sectors like mines to see to what point these contracts respect the best practices internationally. And if they do not respect the best practices we're going to review them in order to benefit the country.

And finally the government developed its development program for the next four years and the program was tabled before Parliament three weeks ago and it was approved unanimously by the members. And since there was no budget in 2014 because it was an election year and the institutions did not have yet legitimacy to have a budget so we had to rush to prepare a budget for 2014 which was also approved unanimously last week by the popular national assembly.

What we want to tell you here is that at the moment we feel able to bring back the institutions and to retake the international cooperation. So we have already sent missions with the World Bank, we had two missions with the IMF at Guinea-Bissau, and two technical assistance missions to identify areas of support for management of public finances among others. And also with the European Union we've had missions. The African Development Bank and other partners are also coming to Guinea-Bissau to help us gradually. The World Bank itself which had suspended its operations there recently now has started them again even before the elections and we now discussing new programs with the Bank. So our message is that the country at this moment is going through a phase of dividends of peace, a period of dividends of peace. So we are taking the opportunity now to mobilize all the energies, all the resources in the public sector, in the private sector, and from the public community to support Guinea-Bissau in the rebuilding of a new nation. Our country has enormous potential in the area of agriculture, fishery, tourism, mines, which are still not being explored properly. With the macroeconomic policies, mobilization of resources, and the support of international community we are convinced that we will have the necessary support to make our country a stable country, one where it is good to live.

MR. KORDJE: Thank you. I am not going to cover the international scenario which my colleagues have already explained. What I would like to do is to share with you some of our concerns in Chad.

Generally speaking I would say that economic growth in the south of the Sahara is good, the outlook is good, prognosis is good, but there is the serious threat of two factors. The first of course is Ebola. It's already been mentioned and I think our colleague from Sierra Leone said very well how much this is affecting Africa in general. And we certainly want to express our solidarity to the three countries most affected by this, and we certainly recognize that the efforts being undertaken by the international communities are appreciated but insufficient. Much must be done so as to ensure that Africa not be lastingly affected over the next two years by this. Now there's a second factor affecting growth in Africa and that is the safety, the security factor. Security issues are an issue for much of Africa and it's so important that we have got to include this and integrate it into our analyses and our evaluations because at the moment all of the countries of the Sahel are affected by the issues of security. And so this has got to remain on our agenda as an important item for the whole of the continent. Chad is certainly in a position to speak of this because since our independence we are now undergoing the longest period of stability, so we know what stability is like. And just thanks to our president who has done everything to ensure that we have such stability. We are now reaping the rewards of this, but it's been a difficult fight because we had issues with Libya in the north, then there's Darfur on the west, then in the east we've got the Boko Haram. So you can imagine we are surrounded by threats to our security and that means that we must invest in security because it's simply part of our reality if we wish to maintain the stability of our country. So the security factor is crucial and must be integrated in all discussion of Africa.

Nonetheless Chad has undergone good growth these two years, the last four years, eight percent average growth annually and we hope to continue along those lines. We have managed to maintain good macroeconomic growth and together with the IMF we have now agreed to a program of credits which was approved on August 1. And this will allow us to reach our goals by the end of the year and it will allow us also to overcome the situation that has been ours for several years now. We had a meeting earlier in Paris to discuss our national development plan and that allowed us to mobilize the resources that we needed to finance that plan. So on the whole, I would say that our outlook is good, it's positive, and we certainly want to do everything we can to maintain that stability and to ensure that growth will continue. And we also must do everything we can to ensure that that growth be inclusive. That then is the area in which we are concentrating.

Two areas in agriculture are particularly important. We are primarily a rural country and 72 percent in fact of our economy, and so this is an area we will certainly be concentrating on. And I should also point out that it is so important to have the support of the international community because the discussions ongoing right now for instance on debt and indebtedness are very important for all of Africa and in fact for many countries that are in development. We are aware that without infrastructure there is no lasting development and infrastructure is expensive and Africa cannot finance it with concessional financing. We need grants and without that we would stagnate or go backwards. So Africa cannot count on concessional income and lower income countries cannot do what they need to do if the help offered is only on a concessional basis. And so this is something that we need to rethink, because if we wish to overcome this low income, if we wish to go beyond the levels that we have seen, and we appreciate the examples of Kenya, et cetera, if we want to do everything we can then that must be our aspirations and in getting there we need more grants, more outright gifts because that is the best way to finance the lasting growth of poor countries and that is therefore what we must focus on. And we hope that the IMF will show flexibility in helping our countries to get beyond poverty. If you think about what it costs to ensure your own development and the cost of that with roads, with et cetera, et cetera. We have a low level of indebtedness actually. It's only 30 percent of our GDP, so we've still got some space and we have a vision which will be discussed with all the authorities in order to do everything that we can towards development. We certainly have the potential. You know, every country has potential; it's hard to speak of potential. It's not potential that's the most important, what's most important is human resources. That's what we must develop and we'll have the capacity needed to solve the problems that face us. And that is an area where we are doing everything within our power. Creation of schools, universities, vocational schools, that is where we are focusing our efforts because we feel that that is crucial.

MR. DIENG: I will now open it up to questions. We'll take two questions at a time and I will ask you to ask short questions and to identify yourself.

QUESTIONER: My question is we have seen that U.S. and European ignorance of African geography has taken consequences. My question is we have West Africa, we have East Africa, Kenya, will you be requiring the global companies like Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, you have Rio Tinto, [inaudible] Hershey, to take direct intervention to help relieve the problems because if we stop economic trade from West Africa Sierra Leone mining the situation is going to get worse with economic refugees spreading out to Europe and everywhere else. So we need to keep the trade going. Have you been reaching out to these people who can make decisions today and who have more power than probably our leadership?

QUESTIONER: Good morning. This is for Minister Henry Rotich. I'm not sure if I heard correctly but I think you said something along the lines of African finance ministers have been discussing a facility with the IMF which they're hoping would be able to guard against crises as Ebola. Can I get an elaboration on what exactly are things at the moment?

MR. DIENG: Thank you. I think Minister Marah can take the question on Ebola and Minister Rotich the second question.

MR. MARAH: Yes, we are doing everything humanly possible to reach out

to businesses out there. And you recall recently that at the high level meeting on Ebola, the issue of the involvement of the private sector was brought to the fold. We will not let them behind. They will have to be part of the process, just so that jobs are created; opportunities within these economies are created. But again, I will send this back to you. The Coca-Cola and all of these companies will not go down there if it is that the media continues to sensationalize this. It's a chicken and egg thing. Now I just said that tourism is down. And my colleague here from Kenya says that they have revised downward the potential for tourism because of Ebola. It will have a spillover effect. That is the issue. Now we have FDI's, major companies in the country that are closing down. They want to leave. Now when it started, London Mining left. Now we have only skeleton members of staff of these companies operating. Now a good number of them have reduced operational activities. But that will not dampen the quest of reaching out to the private sector to bring them on board. Yes, we will continue to reach out to them, for two reasons. One, to fill growth possibly after Ebola, but most importantly, to ensure that they also become part of the process, because the private sector does have best practice solutions, far ahead of government in situations like this, and so yes, we are exploring all the possibilities.

MR. ROTICH: Thank you. On the issue of the crisis financing, I think it's really very important, when what we are seeing now with the challenge of Ebola, you can see how the response has been quite slow. I think we needed a much faster response. And probably, you know, we don't have the instruments in the two institutions -- the World Bank and IMF to respond much faster. I recognize that in the World Bank they had a risk financing for national disasters but they are not available to either countries in this case, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea would have benefitted to set up with access to those resources. Unfortunately, they decide for IBRD countries. Would like to see them also extended to IDA countries so that whenever emergencies like this happen, access can be reached much faster than what has happened now. So really would like to see if these, review of these, to ensure that we have facilities that we could access much faster and did with a national disaster like, in this case, they have. I think it has been happening in other countries so that the region area adequate and all that, but we need more for our sub-Saharan African countries. I also indicated that in Kenya, we are also discussing within the available lending facilities in the Fund, because the net over our vulnerabilities going forward is changing. We need a different engagement with the Fund to ensure that we need sort of a precautionary support facility and this is what we're discussing and it's really a question of well, again, the Fund doing more to make its instrument more flexible so that it can -- we can also access this much quicker, and in case of any challenges. We are now living in a world that is very vulnerable. And they have many natural disasters and we need to prepare ourselves going forward. And the lending facilities of both institutions need to be responsive enough to deal with the situations.

MR. MARAH: I'm sorry, rejoined. You know, you place something that is on the button.

We know that there is a crisis window, crisis response window, to World Bank about 900 million set out for three years, these funds which have been released to help Ebola stricken countries. The good news is there is as well, this is available. But to your knowledge, do you see if there is a need to intervene. But the truth is the situation is there. It is clear we're in need of resources. So again, I address a point that there is a need to go beyond what has been done. Again we welcome the statement made by Madame Lagarde that they will exercise their flexibility in this situation that we find ourselves in this operation. That really is good. While I'm saying a big thank you particularly for the support provided recently by the IMF. What we'll ask for is, that to go further to ensure that the flexibility or the policy of flexibility being expressed by Madame Lagarde is really reflected in the programs that you will be pursuing going forward. Just to underscore that. And one last thing -- yesterday, the G7 plus countries had a round table meeting with the IFC. The key question we asked was, we know the correct stance of the IFC. There is no way it can ensure and it rules when dealing with fragile states. While we know that there have been cases that they have exercised some form of flexibility, what we are asking for as fragile states, is just so that the IFC craft a special template or framework for fragile states, because as has been expressed here this morning, take it, come to look at it, Africa is confronted with major issues. Many a time, we deal with three pronged major issues. Clear cut extremes. You have to deal with the crisis such as Ebola or anti-military physical thing, which is very very expensive. But then you also have to handle infrastructure, which too, is very very expensive. But the backlash of the crisis that you'll be managing also has to do social protection. Then you also begin to do things like a social state, to look after vulnerable people out there. But above all of this you also are required to ensure that you become competitive. You do things as others will be expecting of you. So I take your point, just about just this, that there is a need to exercise as much flexibility as possible, so that you do not only win the battle or war along the humanitarian front, but to also ensure that to win the one on the economy as well.

MR. DIENG: Thank you. I'll take another series of questions. Here at the back

QUESTIONER: Good morning sir. Just want to know specifically, what should be the focus of the international community towards Africa? Should it be security? Should it be investment? Should it be a trade? And of the four of these, sir, what do you think, what do you see as a major problem of problems in Africa? Is it corruption? Is it lack of leadership, ability, or what?

QUESTIONER: This will go particularly to the Sierra Leone Minister. From your experience so far, what should other countries in West Africa that have not been affected by this deadly disease do? Let me restrict myself to even Ghana. What should countries like Ghana be doing to contain the spread of this disease and if you haven't had the opportunity, what would you have done as a country to contain the spread of the disease?

MR. DIENG: Thank you. I will give a chance to Minister Martins and Minister Kordje to respond on the first question.

MR. MARTINS: On the first question on the focus of the international community, I think that of course, in international world, it's important that countries define their own priorities. And often times those priorities defer from one country to another. Globally of course, as mentioned by Minister Rotich and Minister Marah, you -- we know that -- and the Minister Kordje, so, we know that in Africa, globally, we have problems with the security, and we have problems with investment. And unfortunately in most parts of Africa, there is still conflict or conflict situations and part of African countries are actually post-conflict countries, including my country and others. And the discussion going on as mentioned here, is, to what extent international communities can support us as nations, in order to take up the opportunity and advantage of the ongoing growth in Africa today. Because Africa is growing, as everybody knows. And the issue is that we need great amounts of resources to invest on infrastructure, and if as was mentioned here, you cannot access non-concessional investment and non-concessional funds. It's very difficult for you to invest in infrastructure and to speed up your growth. I think that this is the time to do that, because we need to really invest in infrastructure. There is a lot, a huge infrastructure gap in Africa. And without that investment, Africa will not keep this pace of growth. On corruption and lack of leadership, yes, so we know that corruption is a problem. We cannot deny that. And I think that Africa has increasingly are showing leadership. I think that in most parts of Africa today, you can see a true leadership and the leaders who are willing to really turn around things and make sure that country growth, and that the growth is shared among all the population. So this is a challenge of course. And I think that the most important is to have leadership and vision. And I think that it is from that perspective that we have been working with the international community, including the IMF and the World Bank and others, in order to make sure that we have a clear path of forms and a clear vision and a national strategy for development. So yes, leadership is important, leadership is fundamental. We have leadership in Africa and it is gradually showing up and I think that that's the way we should continue to look at things and to move ahead.

MR. KORDJE: I fully agree with my colleague Martins. Just to add some comments, because the question is related to what should focus on the international community -- security, investment, trade, fighting corruption. These are questions that are very important. Now I think what he said, which I won't emphasize, all these are important. All this can continue, only if Africans themselves know what they want to do. International communities cannot change anything, if we Africans don't know what we want to change. So it's not a matter for them to see where they can see where they can, because it's a matter for us to see what we want to do and to achieve. Let me take security. You look around; you see what's going out with this terrorism in the asylum country. We look around and we see many that these are young people without jobs, hopeless, this is an easy market where you can recruit people. You can use them. You can convert them to become terrorists. It brings the issue of how we contribute to having an inclusive growth, to ensure that we take care properly of all of our youth and avoid anybody to bring some division, and destabilize the country. There is the issue of dialogue within the county, the issue of really get people to stay together, to solve the contradiction within dialogue. This is something which each African country should look at it and do it. So we have to more prevent the risk of insecurity and this is something we should do. We don't need a lot of money, if you work properly on prevention and then you are able to work on that direction. Then trade -- yes, we all argue about developing trade among us. It means that we have to go further to solve the problem of free movement of goods, of people, of capital. This does not require a lot of money. So we don't need the international community to put out a lot of money to do so. These are things we can solve, not because we don't need support. We need support in terms of advising in terms of -- but clearly this is something we have to do without a lot of money. Same thing for fighting corruption -- I think there is not any government in Africa who is not saying he is fighting corruption. Now the problem is how we handle it and do it properly because it costs us a lot of money. Now investment, when you come to investment, this is what I was referring to. We need a lot of money when you come to financing infrastructure. And our old internal resources are not enough. This is where we need really, in term of resources, to receive a lot of support, so that we can really finance infrastructure, which is a prerequisite. Many of us have the problem of energy. There is a problem of access. There is a problem of availability of water, water for irrigation, water for different use. So we need really, a lot of money to finance our investment. And we have to find different ways and means so that we can succeed, so we need international community support but it's as to better define it to make the best use of what you want to do. It's not a matter of just saying that this is an area where they have to come. This is what to add to comments.

MR. DIENG: Thank you. We are running out of time. So I'll just give the floor to Minister Marah to respond on what neighboring countries should be doing on Ebola.

MR. MARAH: In the African way, I will say when our neighbor's house is on fire; you do not fetch water and kick it. You go out there and turn it on and put it out. And that is helping, and we want to say that what is happening within headquarters is logical and we want to say thank you and continue to encourage them to work with us. But what can they do in this particular point in time? I think it would be useful to review their national disaster response strategy. It would be good to look at it and secondly, there is a need to begin to take a look at infectious disease control strategy. And there is a need to begin to go down the path of research as well as public sensitization on infectious diseases. But most importantly, I will say that as a country, and this was the question you asked, if we could do it differently, right? It really is a chicken and egg thing. As I said earlier, you are a post-conflict country, and you are on a path of resilience. You're doing well. The fundamentals are there. You want to become economically inclusive and the word out there is that you are growing. So what do you do? How do you ensure that this growth is reflected across the board? That is what you become concerned with. Now you rule out free health care initiating. The next thing is how do you deepen and broaden the scope of that initiative? How do you for example, introduce health insurance? So those are the fundamentals that you are grappling with and then it's strong. We didn't expect it. It has never happened in that part of the region. We are familiar with cholera. It comes and then we respond, but it has never been as dire as this. So it will have been very difficult for us, no matter how you look at it, because the truth is, you cannot be tall and short at the same time. And that is the truth. We've learned our lessons and we are now going forward with a strategy to ensure that our response in this situation recalls again will be thorough and will be good. But it will only happen if it is continued to receive support from our partners. So finally, I want to say a big thank you to the IMF for providing us this opportunity to share our experiences. But thank you so much and I'll wish that Madame Lagarde's pronouncement of flexibility takes truth. And I must commend her. It has never happened in the history of the IMF, insofar as our experiences are concerned. It's a departure from convention, and we hope that it will hold. Thank you so much.

MR. DIENG: Thank you Minister Marah. This brings an end to our press conference today. And I want to thank our panelists. Thank you.


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