Transcript of African Department Press Briefing

April 21, 2018



African Department Director, IMF


Communications Department, IMF

MS. FOUDA: Good morning, everyone, and welcome to this press conference of Mr. Abebe Aemro Selassie. Mr. Selassie is the IMF's African Department director whom you all know well. He will offer a few opening remarks and then he will be happy to take your questions. Without any further delay, Mr. Selassie, you have the floor.

MR. SELASSIE: Thank you, Lucie. A very good morning to you all. Thank you for joining us today for this briefing on the economic developments in sub-Saharan Africa.

I want to briefly set out our assessment of the macroeconomic situation in sub-Saharan African and the policies and reforms that are needed to facilitate stronger and durable economic recovery. So sub-Saharan Africa is seeing a modest pickup in economic growth. In particular, growth this year is projected to pick up modestly from 2.8 percent in 2017 to 3.4 percent this year.

This recovery is fairly broad-based with two thirds of the countries in the region seeing growth accelerating in 2018. But this headline figures also mask diversity and growth outcomes and prospects across countries in the region. Several economies such as Cote d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Senegal, Ghana, are growing robustly with growth of six percent or more.

At the other end of the spectrum, countries that are home to one third of the region's population have seen their per capita income fall in 2017 and most of these countries are expected to witness a further decline in per capita income this year.

The growth pickup we are seeing has largely been driven by a more supportive external environment including stronger global growth, higher commodity prices and favorable financing conditions. On this later point, the record amount of Euro bond issuances in the first quarter gives an indication of the significant improvement in access to international capital markets that the regions frontier markets in particular are having.

External positions have as a result strengthened somewhat, reflecting both these global developments and also improved policy frameworks. Against this backdrop, however, macroeconomic vulnerabilities have risen as we have flagged in previous reports for some time now public debt ratios are on the rise in the region.

About 40 percent of low income countries are now in debt distress or assessed to be at high risk of debt distress. While the causes of this increase are country specific, in part it represents the much- needed investment in infrastructure and development spending which is delivering of course in growth and social outcomes.

It is also worth noting that about half of the increase, about half of the countries in debt distress or at high risk of debt distress are resource-based economies which have had to contend with the largest real oil price decline since 1970. That’s reduced economic growth and hit government revenues significantly.

Looking ahead, the medium-term growth outlook for the region remains subdued. Average medium-term growth is expected to plateau below four percent falling short of the levels envisaged five years ago and below what is needed to ensure progress consistent with the sustainable development goals.

There are significant risks to this outlook as the favorable external environment could fade over time and borrowing terms for the regions frontier markets in particular could tighten.

Elevated security risks are also imposing an immense economic and human toll particularly in fragile states which already are grappling with high rates of poverty and political instability.

In view of these challenges, how can the current recovery be turned into stronger, durable and more inclusive growth? As elsewhere, there is a need to seize the opportunity afforded by the current favorable external conditions by taking domestic policy steps to reduce macroeconomic vulnerabilities and raise medium term growth potential.

In particular, we see three priority areas in the coming months. First, sustained and inclusive growth requires a stable macroeconomic environment but in a number of cases, macroeconomic imbalances are elevated. In this context, fiscal policy needs to strike a balance between debt sustainability and ensuring adequate space for key infrastructure and priority social spending.

Our macroeconomic policy advice and supportive reforms are of course tailored to each country’s structural characteristics and cyclical positions but in the broadest of terms, this can be summarized as in the oil exporting countries there is a need to continue to forcefully implement their fiscal consolidation plans and advanced economic diversification taking advantage of the respite provided by the recent pickup in commodity prices.

For oil importing companies which in some cases have been sustaining growth on the back of large public investment outlays often resulting in some debt accumulation, there is a need to reduce fiscal imbalances and accelerate reforms and facilitates the private sector taking over as the engine of growth.

Central to the goal of addressing debt vulnerabilities is stronger tax revenue mobilization. Stepping up revenue collections would allow sub-Saharan African countries to make progress towards sustainable development goals while preserving fiscal sustainability.

Most countries in the region are seen as having considerable potential to collect higher revenue despite substantial progress of revenue mobilization over the last couple of decades. Sub-Saharan African continues to have the lowest revenue to GDP ratio.

According to some work we have done, countries in the region could mobilize between there to five percentage points of GDP and additional tax revenues in the next four or five years. Achieving this ambition would require strengthening VAT systems, streamlining exemptions and broadening tax base.

Structural policies to raise private investment and nurture a dynamic private sector are also needed in many cases. While public investment levels relative to GDP have been similar to other regions, private investment has been below every region in the world. Raising private investments would require a concerted policy effort to create a sound business environment including strengthening regulatory and insolvency frameworks and deepening access to credits.

Further, trade integration would also help. The recently signed African Continental Free Trade Area. The CFTA is a potential game changing initiative that could boost inter African trade and income if fully implemented.

Before I end, I would like to underscore that sub-Saharan Africa remains a region of tremendous potential. The current upswing in growth provides a more supportive environment to implement much needed policies and reforms to reduce vulnerabilities and raise growth over the medium term. Let me stop here and mention that our regional semi-annual economic outlook will be published on May 8, with launch events taking place in Libreville and Accra. Thank you very much for your patience.

MS. FOUDA: Thank you. Before you ask your question, may I just remind you to please introduce yourself and state the name of your media organization? Also, Mr. Selassie's opening remarks are available to you in the room. My colleague Ismila Dieng at the back there has them for you. Let me take the lady in the middle.

QUESTIONER: Good morning. I report for the Nigerian Television Authority, NTA. And I'm just wanting to find out the CFTA was signed by many countries but Nigeria is one of those countries that did not sign it and pointed out to some factors about trade imbalances and so I'm wondering what is the position of IMF as regards to that particular agreement and how is it going to affect trade with other countries because we are looking at concerns about how other countries are signing agreements with African countries that’s somehow not balanced. Thank you.

MR. SELASSIE: We have strongly welcomed the CFTA agreement that was reached by leaders recently in Kigali. Just to step back a little bit, you know, in recent years, we have seen a significant improvement in inter Africa trade. It has gone up from below 10 percent to now almost 20 percent of the regions trade. And what is interesting about the trade is that much of what Africa trades with each other tends to be more processed, more manufacturing type goods. Exactly the kind of more diversified exports that our countries are seeking.

So, we think that the CFTA when fully implemented and if coupled with reforms through non-tariff barriers, facilitating infrastructure to allow goods to move with each other should facilitate and allow connecting markets and, you know, deepen and expand the markets in which African firms can trade. So we strongly welcome it.

You know, trade agreements are always difficult issues and they have some domestic construction for and some against. But overall, we feel that the CFTA is a very important initiative and one which may African countries will benefit from.

MS. FOUDA: Yes, let's take the one in the middle here please.

QUESTIONER: Hi, thank you very much. I have two questions.

MS. FOUDA: Could you please introduce yourself?

QUESTIONER: Voice of America. About Mozambique, I would like you to comment about the sustainability of the Mozambique's debt and if you have any developments about the 500 million dollars of the secret debts that nobody knows where it went.

And the second about Angola. Angola has just asked for non-financial, help but technical help from the IMF. If you could perhaps tell us what areas do you think the IMF can help on? Thank you very much.

MR. SELASSIE: Thank you. On Mozambique, we don’t really have much new information to report. We continue to engage under the Article IV regular surveillance format as we have over the last year or so. The audit has been done but there continues to be information gaps which we think need to be filled and I think the government is working on those.

With respect to Angola, we welcomed the government's request for support by a non-financial instrument, the policy coordinating instrument. We will be sending a team out to do some diagnostic work and begin discussion with the authorities in the coming weeks. You know, Angola of course has been hit hard by the decline in commodity prices so macroeconomic policy reforms I imagine would be part of the discussions.

But the government has also expressed interest in reforms to help diversify the economy from its excessive reliance on oil which would require addressing product markets, regulations and restrictions, so we will be working hopefully on designing and coming up with reforms that will facilitate a more competitive economy there.

Public finance management will be an important aspect of discussions as well. So we will also hope to do some work to enhance transparency and budgetary processes, strengthen revenue collection. I think these are the set of issues that we see needing some attention and we look forward to these discussions in the coming days.

MS. FOUDA: Yes. Let's take one in the first row here.

QUESTIONER: Thank you. My name is Simon Ateba from Today News Africa. The first question is on Nigeria. We know that the government is trying to mobilize revenues via taxes. I was wondering if you could talk a bit more about the Nigerian economy and then the tax, the revenue mobilization via taxes.

The second question is I feel like I'm growing old attending these IMF/World Bank meetings and listening to the same statistics. We know that Africa is a very diverse place, not a country but a continent with 25 countries. And the story is different from South Africa to Cameroon to Kenya and elsewhere. But do you have a sense that African leaders listen to your recommendation and can you give us an example of some countries where those recommendations, IMF recommendation, have been implemented and countries where those recommendation needs to be implemented. Thank you.

MR. SELASSIE: On revenue mobilization, I think for Nigeria, the challenge and a big economic priority is to get the tax to GDP ratio which is below five percent up to 10 or even higher. If you look at the average tax to GDP ratio in the region, it is around 15 percent in many countries, so I don’t see any reason why Nigeria shouldn't really be pushing towards that target.

And this is necessary to be able to address the tremendous investment needs in infrastructure, in health, in education and many other priorities that the government has. So, it is not really revenue collection just for revenue collections sake but to address these development objectives that the government itself has laid out.

Now of course the challenge has been in Nigeria that because when oil prices are particularly high, there is this relatively easy source of revenue that there has been less emphasis on tax collection. So, I think using this opportunity to enhance revenue mobilization would be helpful.

As for how that is to be done, quite frankly, this is a deeply domestic and deeply political issue and it's for the government to choose what's the appropriate tax angle. We can provide advice and suggestions, but it's up to the government to identify how best to optimize their tax collection and in what manner.

In terms of the dialogue we have with countries in the region, I think it's really important to note that over the last 20, 25 years, there's been tremendous progress in Sub-Saharan Africa. I mean, and this is not just for per capita. In terms of per capita income, which has really been accelerating in the vast majority of countries, but also, the human development outcomes. So, we've seen life expectancy go up. But also, really very important dimensions of standards of living, human development outcomes like, infant mortality indicators have all improved very, very sharply in the region. The strong economic growth, the better macroeconomic policies that fostered that growth have had a lot to do with this. So, I don't think it's fair to say that there hasn't been much change in the region at all.

By the same token, of course, from time-to-time, regions, countries are hit by shocks. It's not unique to Africa. Policy has a role to play and, you know, we have very good dialogue with most cases with the required policies being adopted. So, you know, I take a little bit of an issue with points you raised about painting a picture, that progress hasn't been made.

MS. FOUDA: Just let me take another one in the front row here.

QUESTIONER: My question is with regard to the ECOWAS single currency that the ECOWAS member states are working hard to attain in 2020 after several failed attempts. I just want to know what impact will this have on the regional economy. Thank you.

MR. SELASSIE: You know, we have seen the proposals to launch a single currency by 2020. Frankly, all we've seen are those headlines and not how that's going to come to fruition, so, we're waiting for more clarification and exactly how that will be implemented before I can comment.

MS. FOUDA: Let me take the third row, the lady in the third row, please.

QUESTIONER: My name is Maggie Mutesi correspondent for Africa News in East Africa. I want to touch on the recent threats by the United States to the East African communities, especially in terms of the ban on secondhand clothes. Now, in your recent recommendations, you talked about industrialization and recently, the East African Community was trying to ban the clothes to, you know, get into manufacturing as a way of divesting the economies.

Now, there have been threats, especially in terms of the benefits, with three countries that have already withdrawn: Kenya, Uganda, and Tunisia. Rwanda has taken a stand to say that it will not withdraw. I want to know the IMF stand on this and your thoughts and especially if it's not holding back the developments in the region. Thanks.

MR. SELASSIE: So I hesitate to comment on that because I don't know all of the details of the dispute, but overall, what I can tell you is sectional transformation or diversification of economies in Africa is a very important objective for countries. This is something which we have been discussing in previous Regional Economic Outlook reports that the department has produced. And as countries fall, oil-exporting countries in particular, what we've been talking saying is the need to diversify economies to avoid reliance on single commodities. But even for countries like Rwanda, Kenya, it's very important to continue to facilitate more sophisticated economic activities, processing agricultural products, but also entering the manufacturing realm. So, in terms of the policy environment, domestic policy environment, that is needed, we very much are working with countries on that, but, of course, the trade environment also is important.

Part of the answer, as I mentioned earlier, initiatives like the CFDA are important to that end, but also, of course, exporting beyond to the outside world is also important.

QUESTIONER: I would like to have your assessment of the monetary policy in Nigeria. You've spoken much about fiscal policy. We're seeing a sort of stable exchange rate. Are you comfortable with that?

MR. SELASSIE: Relative to where things were a couple of years ago with inflation accelerating and the very big gap between the official rate and the parallel or black market rate in Nigeria, things have, of course, improved significantly. This is in no small part due to the reforms that have been undertaken to the exchange rate regime, as well as capital inflows which with the recovery in oil prices, with uncertainty around the exchange rates ameliorating, have been taking place in Nigeria. Inflation has also started to decelerate, so these are all welcomed trends.

But I do think that there remains a need to move towards, you know, having a more simplified exchange rate regime going forward. I think that will be also important for the conduct of monetary policy.

So, in the ideal world, you want to go back to the situation you had before, a single exchange rate, so that you have a deep and liquid foreign exchange market, which will facilitate monetary policy conduct.

QUESTIONER: Hi, I'm Priscila Azevedo Rocha from Debtwire in London. Mr. Selassie, you mentioned that 40 percent of the countries in Sub-Saharan Africa are in debt distress. Can you elaborate more on how much of this is attributed to state-owned enterprises? For example, we have the case of Congo and Chad, which are two countries, they're now negotiating restructurings. And Mozambique is a different situation, but even inside Africa, you have the case of the state-owned enterprises. So, I would appreciate if you could elaborate on that.

MR. SELASSIE: So, just one important correction. It's not 40 percent of Sub-Saharan African countries, but 40 percent of the low-income countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, which is a group of around 34 countries.

This excludes countries like South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Mauritius. This is just Sub-Saharan Africa. So, that's a very important first point.

Second, on the question of the contribution of state-owned enterprises, I think what we are seeing in this group of countries that are at high risk of debt distress are already in debt distress is that many of them are natural resource exporters. And the reason they are in such difficult situation now has to do with the big shock that the commodity price decline has entailed. That has impacted output, but also the revenue side. The shock has pushed a lot of countries into difficult debt conditions, circumstances.

How much of that is due to state-owned enterprises of course, the operations of these enterprises have been contributing. But I also relate this somewhat to policies. It’s not just state-owned enterprises. In some countries we've seen, for example, the debt of public utilities migrating to the public sector balance sheet. That often reflects the fact that utility prices are not being allowed to charge cost recovery they've invested in power generation, but tariffs are not set at levels allowing to recover to be able to repay the debt.

But more broadly, I think, when economies go through recession or are being hit by a commodity price shock and revenues decline, you do see migration of losses to public sector balance sheets. So, these are the process that have led to public debt going up in these countries.

Finally, you know, in Nigeria, the public debt level is not the issue. Really, the concern is more with the debt service, which is also true of some other countries in the region. So, the debt-to-GDP ratio is well below 20 percent in Nigeria and the concern really is more about the revenue base being too low to be able to service debt comfortably. For Nigeria, I think it's the debt service ratio that is a source of concern.

MS. AZEVEDO: So, you mentioned that when a country comes into a crisis period, that moves into the balance sheets, but what about the role of the sovereign guarantees provided to the state-owned enterprises to start with? Because most of those countries they're in distress now, it's because the government provided guarantees to the commodity companies?

MR. SELASSIE: Well, you know, circumstances I think vary from country to country. I mean, state-owned enterprises by definition are public sector entities. So, in some cases, there are outright guarantees or otherwise, the government owns more than 50 percent of the company. If it's an oil company, it's maybe 100 percent owned, so it's a government liability. So, I think the circumstances vary from country to country, but yes, indeed, there are some countries where there are guaranteed debts which migrate to the public sector balance sheet.

But I go back to the point I was making earlier. You know, in most cases, and this is something the last region-wide report we produced looked at and we, again, look at in this upcoming report, in most country cases we think that the priority and, you know, the debt issue can be addressed through increased revenue mobilization which would facilitate lower fiscal deficits. That's what's needed and that's where the policy focus needs to remain.

MS. FOUDA: Yes, let me take the gentleman on the fourth row, please.

QUESTIONER: Mario Baptista form Lusa, the Portuguese News Agency and I wanted to ask you a question on Angola and another one on Mozambique.

On Angola, for a country that has a public debt around 70 percent and a GDP forecast of 2.2 this year, wouldn't it be more efficient to ask for a financial-wide package instead of just CPI since the yields are much higher if you don't borrow from the IMF or other concessional lenders?

And also, on Mozambique, I wanted to get this clear, under the debt sustainability analysis, is Mozambique eligible for a financial aid package from the IMF? And also, if you believe that the external image of the country has improved since the hidden debt scandal. Thank you.

MR. SELASSIE: So, on Angola, I mean, the debt-to-GDP ratio is not an indicator that tells you whether a country needs a program or not. Reserve levels in Angola are comfortable. They also have some money in their sovereign wealth fund. So, in terms of balance of payments need, we're not seeing a need for exceptional financing that the IMF provides typically. So, again, we'll initiate the discussions and, you know, given the comfortable level or reserves, we think a PCI could be an instrument which you could work and provided they do all the policy stuff required, that should be adequate.

On Mozambique, so, on the debt side, on the debt sustainability side, you know, given the fact that they are having difficulties servicing their debts, it's a country that we classify as being in debt distress or that debt is not on a sustainable trajectory. So, like all members of the IMF, they are eligible for program discussions, of course. There is no outstanding request for a program discussion right now. And what we have said in the past when the program was suspended was that we would need clarification on what happened. The audit that was done. That will bring about more transparency on what the resources that were borrowed or used before we can proceed to a program engagement. There's no program request.

MS. FOUDA: Let me take a question online. I will get back to the room in a short while. We have a question from the Financial Express, Clement Machadu from Zimbabwe. He's interested in knowing, he assesses that Zimbabwe is planning to clear its arrears with the AFDB and the World Bank by September of this year and he would be interested in knowing what sort of economic program the IMF can immediately offer to the country.

MR. SELASSIE: So, I think what's important for Zimbabwe to get an arrangement with the IMF, you know, for having a way of being able to clear these arrears with multilateral development banks is one step. And also, we need to understand the debt picture and find a way to make sure that the rest of the debt can be sustainable. So, on the financing side, that is one element.

Then, on the other side, really is trying to agree on a program that will be able to engender growth, address a lot of the development challenges that Zimbabwe has. And importantly, try and reverse the increase in formality that we've seen in the economy, trying to reverse that and get growth going. So, agreeing on those elements will be important in the post-election environment and we're hopeful that we can move forward quickly.

QUESTIONER: My name is Christian Chenga from Zimbabwe. Mr. Selassie, the last time you left, a few things have changed since you left. My question was, since an issue in Africa's infrastructure deficit, one of the biggest projects or ongoing events is China's investment into Africa's infrastructure. How closely does the IMF look into it and how relevant is it across the continent in terms of evaluation of infrastructure development?

MR. SELASSIE: We do not get directly involved in individual projects. We work with governments more overall on the broader macroeconomic framework and, of course, in many cases, we work with countries on ways to make room for increased development spending. In some cases, it's in infrastructure; in other countries, it's on more spending on health and education. So, we come at it more from that element.

You know, the region, of course, has tremendous infrastructure development needs: roads; electricity, ports that need to be addressed. And the dialogue we have with countries is how to strike the right balance between addressing these investment needs and avoiding an unsustainable debt buildup, so we work with countries to try and make sure we strike a right balance.

Increasingly, with public debt levels on the rise, we think the priority needs to shift a bit more to finding either private investment for a lot of these infrastructure needs or else financing more of these through domestic resources, revenue mobilization in particular. So, these are the issues that we're discussing in most countries these days.

MS. FOUDA: Yes, gentleman in the second row here.

QUESTIONER: Thank you, Mr. Selassie, for giving me the floor. I am from Congo, Brazzaville. And you said that 40 percent of low-income countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have debt issues or even high debt issues, but what is the IMF advising these countries that are facing high debt? What do you intend to advise them to do so that we avoid this recurring debt cycle? Some of the countries have stifled their economics. My country concluded an agreement yesterday with the IMF that gives us some breathing space. Could we see more of that?

MR. SELASSIE: I'll speak English. We of course work with countries to pursue reasonable and sustainable fiscal policies at all times. When particularly for commodity-exporting countries, one of the things we've been calling for many years has been when oil prices were high, to make sure that countries build, in the technical language we say buffers, but what we mean really there is countries avoid using up all the resources, assuming that high oil prices will stay at those levels forever, and utilize more conservative oil price assumptions in budgets and the like.

But sometimes, the pressure is to spend and address development needs are very significant, so countries don't always do that. And when prices fall, countries are left in a very difficult situation. So, our work really is to try and make sure that policies in the good times lean against utilizing all of the proceeds at that time, and when times are difficult to make sure that there are easier ways to work it out.

And indeed, one of the challenges that we've seen in some CEMAC countries is very high levels of debt. So, whatever the numbers, debt restructuring is an important element of the financing that's going to be needed to alleviate the burden of the adjustment falling on the countries themselves. So that's the general approach that we're using.

MS. FOUDA: Okay, let's take this one here, and then we'll take one last question, and we can conclude.

QUESTIONER: I'm going to speak French. I'm from Cameroon, Cedric Noufele. You mentioned the tax policy which should be about three to five percent of these countries in Africa who are having difficulties. Countries are already complaining about the tax pressure in central Africa. So how can you implement this new policy without creating some sort of a backlash?

Also, the managing director of the IMF said that there's going to be increased vigilance of these economic recovery programs that are being concluded with sub-Saharan Africa countries, and how in concrete terms do you intend to make sure that the funds that are going to be provided to these countries, African countries, in difficulty are well used?

MR. SELASSIE: We do recognize, of course, that increasing tax ratios, collecting more revenues, is not an easy undertaking. This is why a lot of the work that we're doing with countries is to try and find ways to avoid going back to the same people for taxes, but instead, to broaden tax bases. So, a lot of the work we do is in that vein. Also identifying new sources of tax collections, revenues collections, is going to be important because the structure of economies in our region have changed. One example being significant and increased urbanization in many countries in the region. So, property taxes, I think, have to be an element in many countries' arsenal to be able to expand the tax base. So broadening tax bases, looking at tax handles like property taxes, removing or reducing exemptions, tax exemptions that are provided to companies are all elements of how you can broaden the tax base and make sure that debt ratios become more comfortable.

That's the first thing. Second thing is again, I would reiterate that when we talk about tax revenue mobilization, it has to be done across the board a little bit in the sense that we are seeing a lot of investment by governments. But not enough is being done to capture the rate of return on investment. Electricity is an example that I gave earlier.

We all have our mobile phones, understand the service that we have in most African countries really are compatible to what we have elsewhere. And most of the phone mobile companies are private, right? So, I think finding ways in which we are able to pay for electricity-type services, bridges that we're building, ports we're building, making sure that those services are paid for would be a way to make sure that debt service is affordable.

We also see that having appropriate utility fees, et cetera, as part of the process of ensuring that there is more revenues is important for the public sector. So that's on the first part of your question.

On the second part, on corruption, I think it's not just for the countries in the CEMAC region, but really for all countries, making sure that the loss to the public sector from inappropriate contracts, bringing transparency to public finances is an important priority. And an element of programs in most countries is to really make sure that the public accounts are as transparent as possible in those countries where we have been engaged in a program relationship for a considerable time. But there are some cases, including in the CEMAC region where we haven't in the program engagement and the quality of public accounts is not as good as it could be.

So, we have been emphasizing that public finance management reforms to strengthen accountability institutions and address corruption have been a positive element of our programs there. And I would just add that the executive board recently approved a framework for us to address governance and corruption issues. The document, actually, is going to be launched on Sunday. So, there's a new policy in place which is helping us guide a lot of the work that we're doing there.

MS. FOUDA: Let's go to this side of the room and take the question here.

QUESTIONER: My question: yesterday President Buhari made a comment about the youth in Nigeria, and described them as being lazy and entitled. I'm paraphrasing. There has been an outcry online. How do you propose that governments integrate youth into the economics to avoid the discontent that we've been seeing like with him and also in Latin America?

MR. SELASSIE: Tough question. I think in terms of what's needed, really, to support the young people in the region is robust economies that are able to create the hundreds of thousands of jobs that each country needs every year. It's with a robust private sector economic growth that we will be able to create jobs and opportunities for the young. And this settles back to some of the policies that we were talking about earlier: making sure that there is an active process of identifying the constraints to investment; removing distortions; addressing competiveness issues where they arise. All this really should not be underestimated in terms of how important they are to facilitate private investment.

And another side of the equation, of course, is for governments to provide quality education at all levels, to be able to have a workforce that is ready for the jobs that are going to be created. So, I think as policymakers, the levers that are available really are these kinds of levers. These are the policy instruments that there are. I wouldn't underestimate how important these levers are to engender higher growth and thus helping create opportunities for the young.

MS. FOUDA: Thank you so much, Mr. Selassie, and thank you all for coming.

MR. SELASSIE: Thank you.

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