News Brief: African Regional Technical Assistance Center to be Established in Abidjan

April 30, 2002

President Laurent Gbagbo of Côte d'Ivoire and Horst Köhler, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), signed today in Abidjan an agreement to establish an African Regional Technical Assistance Center (AFRITAC) in Côte d'Ivoire. The decision to establish the AFRITAC follows a request from African heads of state to Mr. Köhler at their meetings in Bamako and Dar es Salaam in February 2001 for enhanced IMF support for capacity building in Africa.

The Abidjan center will help countries in West Africa build local capacity for economic and financial management.1 The IMF will provide assistance through a team of resident experts, supplemented by short-term specialists, as well as through in-country workshops, professional training, and regional training courses. Training and technical assistance from the AFRITAC will concentrate on the IMF's core areas of expertise--including macroeconomic policy, tax policy and revenue administration, public expenditure management, financial sector policies and macroeconomic statistics--in close cooperation with the World Bank, the African Development Bank and donors.

As part of this initiative, the IMF would become a member of the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), the implementing agency for the Partnership for Capacity Building in Africa (PACT). The PACT is a collaborative framework, established in 1999 between African governments and their development and financial partners, to increase capacity building across Africa.

The creation of the center is part of the IMF's response to an urgent need identified by African leaders for support for their efforts to promote economic growth and reduce poverty. The AFRITAC is also a contribution by the IMF to the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD).

The AFRITAC in Abidjan, which will be modeled on the IMF's regional technical assistance centers in the Pacific and the Caribbean, is expected to start operations later this year. The creation of the AFRITAC in Abidjan follows agreement on April 29 to establish a similar center in Dar es Salaam to serve countries of East Africa. The IMF plans to establish five AFRITACs over the medium term, after reviewing the experience of the first two centers.

The IMF provides technical assistance to help countries strengthen their human and institutional capacity, as a means to improve the quality of policy-making, and gives advice on how to design and implement effective macroeconomic and structural policies. Technical assistance is one of the benefits of IMF membership, and complements and enhances the IMF's other key forms of assistance, surveillance and lending. Currently, about 30 percent of IMF technical assistance goes to Africa.

1 Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Togo.


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