Transcript of the October 2019 African Finance Ministers Press Conference

October 21, 2019








MR. VILKAS: Good afternoon and welcome to this press conference of African Finance Ministers. The focus of this press conference African economic integration, the challenge and opportunities, but also having in mind the African Continental Free Trade agreement that has been signed in March this year.

So, my name is Gediminas Vilkas. I am with the IMF Communication Department and I am delighted to introduce you the ministers, the speakers of today’s press conference. So, I’ll start from my left.

So first of all, the Minister of Finance of Somalia, Mr. Abdirahman Duale Beileh; the Minister of Finance and Budget of Senegal, Mr. Abdoulaye Daouda Diallo; the Minister of Finance of Mauritania, Mr. Mohamed Lemine Ould Dhehbi; and the Acting Finance Cabinet Secretary at National Treasury of Kenya, Mr. Ukur Yatani Kanacho.

So, without further ado, I will give the floor to the ministers and then we’ll have some time for questions. So first of all, the Minister from Somalia, please.

MR. BEILEH: Thank you very much, Mr. Coordinator, and good afternoon everybody. It’s indeed a pleasure for me to be here addressing something that is very important for Africa, and for the rest of the world, in fact. And, from the point of view of Somalia, which is a country that is known to have been very fragile and continues to be fragile and how do we marry the two.

I think that trade, everybody knows, is a very important component of economic development, economic performance, and I think we should all encourage trade.

Unfortunately, trade in Africa always looked at overseas trade; the legacy of the history of Africa. Africa is trading with their partners in Europe and elsewhere. I think it’s about time that we start looking to our neighbors -- very cheaper. And they also express demand.

There are certain things that we can produce and send it to our neighbors and there are certain things that we can get from them much cheaper than we can get those same goods and services from overseas.

We are now working on Horn of Africa Program and that program has trade as one of the major components. This project is being co-proposed by the African Development Bank, The World Bank, and the EU; three heavyweights of our partners, and we are looking forward to that.

We had a big meeting yesterday -- ministerial meeting -- and we are look -- a big component is trade.

Now, I think it will depend it will vary from country to country on how best the countries can make use of trade. Somalia being fragile, I think we have been humbled by debt overhang in our country to do anything, really. We did not have any access to any of the concessionary windows of the IFIs for 30 years and we are struggling.

Our focus today is to do something with the debt; do away with the debt. And Somalia today is really climbing to the best of our effort and the effort of the international community. We are looking forward to early next year when we expect a decision point to be reached. And thus, therefore, a cancelation of the debt -- and therefore, I should say, access to the international communities’ concessionary windows.

We will then put a lot of emphasis on trading. As you may know, Somalis are traders. Everywhere they go, they do business. That is probably in our blood, whatever it is. And really, even in the regional integration program that we are working with five other -- four other countries, we are putting the basis for the infrastructure basis and the rules and regulations and the tariff systems and policies that will guide our regional integration.

So, we are looking forward to that, Mr. Chairman, and I will stop there. You gave me four minutes and I think that’s sufficient. I can talk about Somalia all the day because that’s what I do, but I look forward to your questions. Thank you very much, sir.

MR. VILKAS: Thank you, Minister. So now, please, Mr. Diallo.

MR. DIALLO: Thank you very much. Good afternoon, everyone. Yes, it is a great opportunity that we have to speak about our situations, but above all, of this regional integration, which is of particular interest to Senegal.

Senegal has always been one of the precursors of African unity, the African Union, but above all, we've been a part of all of the sub-regional authorities within the framework of economic and social cooperation, and even political cooperation.

It’s true that we have already in two unions the economy that concerns eight countries, and then we’re in ECOWAS, which is an economic commission, and we have recently joined the latest union, the Monetary Union, the African Central Free Trade area. And so, we are making progress on other fronts.

But with respect to Senegal, in fact, since the President of the Republic, Macky Sall, was elected, we've gone through two stages. The first stage is PS1, which lasted for five years as of 2014. And then the second phase, which we are currently experiencing right now.

And so, in this phase, at this stage, what we call the Phase 2 of PSE, it’s $14.8 billion for 700 projects and it’s going to be carried out over five years. And that means that we have some major initiatives and the program has a precedent set.

It’s a program that we can summarize in one important figure and that is 535. There are five initiatives that are very important. It’s three programs that are important and five major thrusts of the Number 535. And so that is directed to a single objective and that is better overall well-being for the Senegalese population.

Of course, it cannot go forward without, of course, a good participation, good presence of Senegal and Africa, because if we look at what is happening in our continent, we have a fairly low level compared to the rest of the world. Fifteen percent of our trade is inter-African as opposed to other zones. For example, in Asia where it's almost 60 percent, 50 percent -- we have a lower level of trade in Africa. In Europe, it's about 70 percent and so there's still a great deal of effort to be made at that level. But for this, we have to fulfill a certain number of prerequisites.

First of all, there's infrastructure. Then there's security, but also, quite simply, when it comes to convergence, convergence is very important. Basically today, we're in a system where we have developing countries at different levels and there are some countries that are particularly advanced. I could mention large countries such as Nigeria, other countries such as Morocco, or South Africa; and then come intermediate countries, such as Senegal and other countries, who have to be pushed towards a better management of public finances.

And so, I spoke about we represent infrastructure, but there's also another important element which we have to address and that is the question of security. Without security, we will not be able to work and to move towards that free trade area that we all wish for because we would have to boost inter-African trade, especially since today we're subject to international challenges. We spoke about this earlier yesterday when we listened to the reports of our representatives at the Bank and at the Fund.

We realize that we are moving towards a trade crisis which would necessarily have repercussions for Africa. And so, in those conditions, we have to have measures at our level so that we will not suffer that much, but we'll have a certain degree of resilience and to continue to participate in the global economic system.

And so, I think I'll stop there, and I'll await questions. Thank you.

MR. VILKAS: Thank you, Minister. I will now give the floor to Mr. Dhehbi.

MR. DHEHBI: Thank you very much. Well, I'd like to thank you. I think that African integration is an opportunity for all countries. It's an enormous market. It's more than 1.2 billion inhabitants, a GDP of more than $3 trillion, so there's a huge challenge. But there's also a major challenge at the African level, a challenge when it comes to the coordination of economic policies; there's the challenge of removing obstacles and barriers. Now, a symbol of those obstacles are the borders that exist between those 55 different countries.

As for my country, we have ‑‑ in Mauritania we have signed a partnership agreement with ECOWAS. And in the 2020 budget, we are currently working on our customs tariffs that we also ratified the agreement on the free trade zone, but we have enormous challenges at the international level.

First of all, we have a low rate of foreign trade specialization and there we have a great deal of progress to be done. There are also important adjustments that need to be made.

Now, from a general point of view, we have a great deal to learn from the international experience of economic zones and economic cooperation. And in particular, for these agreements and for this integration, there is complementarity, but we need to coordinate economic policies and economic structures to be able to implement these agreements.

We need public investment programs which are substantial and aimed at improving economic competitiveness within the framework of complementarity. We also need to take into account the dimension ‑‑ we have to take into account the strategies of the different international players and Pan-African players. We are also facing challenges from a development point of view, certain sectors that are exposed to competition such as agriculture, livestock, as well as labor-intensive industries in different countries.

Now, from the point of view of commodities, Africa is a reservoir of commodities, of raw materials, and there we have the African mining vision. We have IDA. There are several documents that have to be looked at in the light of new challenges and national strategies have to be a part of those documents and initiatives.

I think I'm going to stop there. Thank you very much.

MR. VILKAS: Thank you, Minister. The last word for the Minister, Mr. Kanacho, please.

MR. KANACHO: Yeah, thank you very much. I think globally, we see an emergence of trade tensions threatening to reverse the gains that have been achieved so far all over quite a number of regions. But we are pleased to note that in African, trends are quite different. The African free trade was recently launched. We believe that integration of Africa will portend great opportunity for the region, increase inter-trade within African countries with a potential benefit increasing trade by more than 50 percent.

This undoubtedly will bring better opportunities in terms of portend better growth, jobs creation, and poverty reduction. The case of East African community has been a very big success. We just had massive progress by realizing more wider market. There's joint prosperity for all the countries and also an opportunity to nurture young industries.

But we've also realized that over time challenges do still exist. There are certain non-trade barriers that are still quite common. The cost of transport of goods within these regions is also in direct protection of infant industries without really knowing nonconventional ways of trying to pull down on the successes in an attempt to protect young industries because every country assumes the same objective of manufacturing. It's really important that they need to leverage goods and services. That should not be the only compelling reason. You need to liberate service industry by setting certain standards when compensating labor and also having similar practices, labor practices.

There's need for continuous investment or major facilitative services as are pending in parts of East Africa, especially Kenya. We know a joint operation in addressing issues of ICT infrastructure. We're also coming up with economic zones to facilitate, you know, trade and investments in those areas. Overall, the future's quite bright. But we need to maintain so that we would not actually go to danger or not creating tensions between the various countries because it can be very big danger to further integration. I thank you.

MR. VILKAS: Thank you very much, Ministers. So, now, we will have the time for questions. Please introduce yourself and the media you are representing. We're going to start with the lady here in the second row in red, please.

QUESTIONER: Hi, Andrea Shalal with Reuters. I wanted to ask each of you to sort of say a few words about the impact on the continent in your individual economies of these global trade tensions. I know its kind of been the backdrop for these meetings is the impact of the U.S.-China trade war and other tensions on the global economy. So, are you seeing specific impacts and to what extent could they even be positive impacts? For instance, in the case of Kenya, you know -- or other countries, are you seeing perhaps an opportunity there to collect some of the supply chain work that has previously been very focused on China. So that would be the first question

And the second question is if you are looking at this multilateral institution now that we are here, do you see continued strength, or are there attacks on this sort of notion of multilateral work because of the U.S. decision to pull out of various multilateral organizations. Thank you. And what does that mean for your countries?

MR. VILKAS: Thank you very much. I believe that's a question to all of the Ministers, but I heard that Kenya was mentioned so maybe we'll start from the Kenyan Minister. Please?

MR. KANACHO: I think regarding the impact of global tensions now on various local economies in my view it's really best described, it depends on the prevailing trade agreement between – our own unions, rather than naturally either taking advantage, or trying to see whether the tension is going to bear fruits in terms of pertaining new opportunities. But it will basically be dictated by the prevailing arrangements that we have was either China or America, or whatever.

MR. VILKAS: Okay. Please.

MR. DHEBBI: Well, we are not going to finance trade wars to be able to take advantage of it, and we shouldn’t exaggerate that, we shouldn’t finance trade wars between the U.S. and China to take advantage of it, but I think it's an opportunity. It's an unfortunate opportunity, but an interesting one.

Having said that, we know that Africa combines both raw materials or commodities and a reservoir of labor. I think this is a new situation that we really have to take advantage of. Now, afterwards I know that there are -- there is the offshoring of industries in the developed world because unemployment is quite a pressing issue, but I think that Africa is the final destination for capital for the two assets that I've mentioned. I think that it's a good omen for the future.

MR. DIALLO: Yes, of course we are going to have to experience the consequences of that global tension especially when it comes to energy, that's very important. And if things evolve in a certain way today, it's going to have an impact on our economy, but the other important element are consequences on the financial markets have that and will necessarily have an impact as well on our situations and the funds that we'll be able to obtain.

But having said that today, you know, the free trade agreement has come at the right time, because basically in Africa we have to work to develop a certain degree of resilience. I said that earlier and that's very important. We are the only ones who, together, can tackle that difficulty.

The difficulty, as I said, is infrastructure, generally speaking, whether it be transportation, ports of security. But the other difficulty is our low rate of industrialization. Unfortunately, we are still dependent on the global system, the European and Asian system. So, we have to take advantage of that difficulty to move towards a massive industrialization of our economies to be able to remain and have a significant capacity for resilience.

And the last element, is the possibility of offshoring, that could an opportunity for us, and it's going to happen in certain group of countries. China, for a long time, was a fertile area in that respect, and Mauritania mentioned this earlier. We have labor in Africa, we have commodities, and so I think it's the right time, and this is the perfect time to be able to take advantage of that, and to move towards a massive industrialization. Thank you.

MR. BEILEH: As you all know, Somalia is not a major player in the international trade as I explained earlier, but of course the discussions that are taking place between the U.S. and China, two very important players in the international market, may have some consequences at the later stage.

I think it's too early to say what that impact would be, but as far as Somalia is concerned, I think we have much more challenges than we are dealing with now, than trade. And really, I would say, we import a few food items, and we are not really a major player, so I have not sensed any impact of any international disturbances; neither the international institutions, nor international trade. Thank you.

MR. VILKAS: Thank you. The lady here in the first row.

QUESTIONER: I'm Pearl Matibe with NewsDay Zimbabwe. Thank you very much. I think it's commendable that we've got Foreign Ministers here that are making themselves available to the press. So, thank you very much for being available.

My question to you is, with the next phase of AfCFTA, where do you see your countries in terms of dealing with the other African countries like Zimbabwe that have got currency issues, and at times no currency? We know where the RTGS is at the moment; what are the plans in terms of phasing some of these low-income, fragile countries? Thank you very much.

MR. VILKAS: Do you have a specific Minister in mind you want to answer, or all the Ministers?

QUESTIONER: Thank you for giving the opportunity to clarify. I would like to have an opinion from each, if that's possible.

MR. VILKAS: Okay. Maybe we can start from you now?

MR. BEILEH: Okay. Okay. Thank you very much. You spoke about, you know, countries trading and how they will deal with fragile states, and that's where I come, as far as Somalia is concerned. You also spoke about the currency issues, and that also affects Somalia. Somalia is a multi-currency country now, even though mobile money is taking over everything. Mobile money is taking over everything, I think more than any other country in Africa.

We have the dollar -- like you, like Zimbabwe, we also have the Somali shilling, and we are trying to keep it that way for the time being because we have not seen any major problems. Anybody who wants a shilling will have the shilling, and anybody who wants the dollar, have the dollar, for the time being.

Now, trade of course, we'll have to trade with currencies that are acceptable, I'm thinking about our neighbors, you know, trading with a neighbor. I think you should start with your neighbor. And we have the possibility of trading with them, whatever we can trade with them, with the currencies that they have, and our currencies, and we did not have any constraint, so to speak, as far as the currencies are concerned. Thank you.

MR. DIALLO: Yes, I would say that in Senegal, we are members of two unions that are important, a monetary union in which there are eight countries, and we are also in ECOWAS, 15 countries; so, we don't have any essentially difficulty for trading with any of the African countries. Our currencies are known. The important currency in the region is the U.S. dollar. The currency of Nigeria, Ghana, and other countries are there, and we don't have any difficulties in working, essentially, with Zimbabwe in that sense. Thank you.

MR. DHEBI: The monetary issue is important, there are target monetary areas in Africa, the evolution of the agreement was just made. There will be stages, and obviously monetary unions require greater stages, it's greater than just free change, but -- free exchange or free trade agreements, but I believe that it's going to require greater convergence, and why not a common currency in the future. Thank you.

MR. KANACHO: I think from us, we need to realize that you know, as African countries we must take charge of our own destiny, and we must take it our self to grow, trade it in ourselves. We also have a duty of care and obligation to nurture countries in all type of situations. We are not all at the same level. There are certain countries with transitional issues. So, we must, indeed, take upon our self as an obligation to support. And we must also have trade in our own currencies. Because of convertibility, because of acceptability, it is really important we have faith and, you know, trade using our own currencies.

Importantly enough for Kenya, we must realize that we are the pioneer in the idea of money transfer through M-Pesa. It has really eased financial support. It has improved inclusivity and include multi-rural economy. Through that, we are able to connect every citizen to the financial systems. And that is very exciting and that is how we need to support our own systems so that we can find value in non-exchangeable goods and services using our own currency so that we can grow, but the ultimate reason is just we think of our monetary unit, even it is going to take 50, 100 years to come.

MR. VILKAS: Thank you. The lady in the second row, here.

MS. BONORCHIS: Good afternoon. My name is Renee, I’m with Bloomberg News. My question goes to the Somali Minister and the Acting Treasury Secretary of Kenya.

How does the current border dispute -- the maritime border dispute -- between your two countries affect the implementation of a freer trade, especially now that the case around the dispute has been postponed to next year?

MR. VILKAS: Mr. Minister?

MR. BEILEH: Should I start?


MR. BEILEH: Okay. I thank you very much for the question. I would really say that the maritime dispute has not affected our business with Kenya from what I see. They continue importing a lot of goods and we will continue exporting whatever we had in the past. So, there is no effect. There was no effect as far as from where I sit. The maritime dispute is something for the laws to decide, for the courts to decide, and I think that’s what the two Presidents agreed in their last meeting.

But I think life goes on. There is no effect on our relationship. Kenya is a very good neighbor for us and we are dealing with them amicably. Thank you.

MR. KANACHO: I also confirm that there is no hostility between Kenya and Somalia. There’s only expression of dispute or disagreement. And we have full confidence in the international instrument of the court to sit to decide on how to go. And, whatever the outcome, we are going to respect.

I think we also need to realize that Kenya has, of course, understanding and misfortune that we failed Somalia over time. Kenya has been acting as the other brother, giving them all the support in terms of our managing the humanitarian crisis. We host the biggest refugee camp in the world. And we’ve done everything most of the humanitarian organizations, financial institutions, agencies, are -- most of them are still operating from Nairobi -- by serving Somalia. We have a duty of care as brother because nothing is permanent. Situations -- they need to be supported.

Whatever disagreement regarding the maritime dispute is unfortunate, but we have to wait for the court decision and we will be more than glad to abide by it.

MR. VILKAS: Thank you. The gentleman on the third row here in the blue shirt.

MR. NODE-LANGLOIS: Good afternoon. I am Fabrice Node-Langlois from the Newspaper Le Figaro in Paris. As we have two French speakers, I will ask my questions in French for the ministers.

The Board of Governors of the IMF this morning approved the review process for quotas. We know that it may be difficult. The U.S. is not in favor of this. Is this an important situation for your countries? Do you think that this will turn out well?

Another question that you didn’t answer for my colleague from Reuters, which is on the state of multilateralism and the threat to multilateralism. Thank you.

MR. VILKAS: Thank you. So, the first question was addressed more to the French colleagues? To all of them? Okay.

Perhaps we could start with the Minister from Senegal, Mr. Diallo.

MR. NODE-LANGLOIS: Do you want me to repeat the question?


MR. NODE-LANGLOIS: In French? In English?

MR. DIALLO: In French.

MR. NODE-LANGLOIS: Yes. I was talking about the review of the quotas for IMF member countries given that more weight is going to be given to emerging countries. But we know it’s a complicated process that will perhaps be blocked by the U.S., and I wanted to hear what you thought of it. Thank you.

MR. DIALLO: Thank you. That is necessarily a question that is directed to us because we’re all partners in a structure, the IMF -- in the IMF. And we need to be states on an equal footing.

I don’t think despite the differences amongst the states economically, they are still independent and sovereign states. And as of that, I don’t think we need -- we can say that the same voice or one single voice for each state, but I think that each state has the possibility of influencing in terms of their role, particularly for developing countries. Thank you.

MR. DHEHBI: On the matter of quotas, this is a very old re-vindication about majority of countries, and in African countries representativeness is quite weak. So clearly, I think that this is a struggle that must be continued. I think that economic agreements at the Pan-African level, since the policies follow the economy, I think from here to there it’s not a given, but rather the basis is trade, opening borders. Then we have to follow economic lines and then moving onward from there and ending perhaps into a monetary union, perhaps following the European path. It’s a long path. I think that we need to learn from the experiences of other more distant states, if you will.

There are panels and experts that deal with this, but the idea underlying this is to, within international organizations, to have a weighting of the states, but the voices -- or rather the votes -- and the properties afforded to each one is the way it is set up.

Now, with respect to multilateralism, it’s the same matter. We need more multilateralism to better govern the world. It’s clear. I think that Africa has a great responsibility. I think within the instances of the African Union that matter is discussed to a great extent in Ministries of Foreign Affairs, but I think that within the African Union we are interested by multilateralism. It interests us, and we would like to see it fostered to the greatest extent possible. Thank you.

MR. KANACHO: On multilateralism and the fear that some countries pulling out or planning to pull out on their multilateral institutions. I think there is danger because it has potentially put all who live in other countries under a lot. They may follow suit. And this will kill the spirit and the dream of effective globalization because with all the benefits and the free flow of goods and services, and the support or facilitate the role that multilateral can play in all this may connect in the world. We may run a danger of diminution, the intended mutation; and at the same time also provide limited financing; concessions to -- so that the other countries are also brought on board.

I think it's not a good thing to do, but if it happens then it's just to really heap on the benefits by making sure that all other countries remain firm in multilateralism for their own benefits, for the benefits of the world, and also to facilitate the desire and the benefits of all this.

MR. VILKAS: Minister, you wanted to comment?

MR. BEILEH: Yes. I wanted to comment on the issue of multilateralism and say that multilateral institutions, particularly, the financial multilateral institutions, are those that are linked to UN, these have been very important for the world. And I really think that while countries can reduce their ownership or their contribution, I think they have a role to play, a very, very important role to play; and I think they deserve our support.

It is our decision, collective decision, to have this institution set up to address a specific need that we saw at that particular time. I mean what could we do without the IMF; what can Somalia do without IMF; or the World Bank; or the African Bank; or these institutions who are collecting funds from the market because of their AAA; and also, from other countries that have surpluses to assist countries, as intermediary institutions.

I cannot imagine the world surviving, especially very fragile and less developed countries, without the support of the bilaterals through their multilateral institutions.

So, for me, I think these are very important institutions, and we should support them.

MR. VILKAS: Thank you Ministers. I think we have time for one more question. The gentleman at the fourth row, there.

MR. NDENGWE: Thank you very much, sir. My name is Francoise Ndengwe of “Hommes d’Afrique magazine”. One question relating to the -- we are here, the International Monetary Fund, and M stands for money. When you look at Africa the question to ask is there are almost 40 different currencies; and if you want to have a trade in an area in which you would trade, you need the currencies. How is it that -- the clearing system is very difficult in the continent?

For instance, I cannot use -- if I want to change the Kenya shillings into the CFA francs, I have to pass through the dollar or through the euros. What is being done to facilitate the exchange of currency?

And, if I may, a second question, quickly, to the Kenyan Minister. Sir, the East African community had started years ago and accelerated the process of a common currency in your region; but since a few years, we haven't heard about it. What's going on?

And, finally, to the Minister of Senegal. Mr. Minister, there is the ‘Eco’ project, the common currency of ECOWAS was that is to be announced next year, does that mean that the CFA will be the end because this has been extended, the deadline has been extended several times.

MR. KANACHO: I fully agree with you that the situation as it is where we have more than 40 different countries posing a challenge to effective implementation and the realization of the free trade. But, I think, is a working arrangement, and through the African Trade Union, the dream is to have one currency in the long run; but is a working arrangement.

Regarding this African union and the monetary union, we are well on course and we have many, quite a number of those initial conditions, including, you know, the debt's ceilings; including all of the monetary aspects of it. But we are well on course, and the timeline is still approaching. We have no doubt, maybe the next five, six years, we'll have managed.

MR. VILKAS: Thank you Minister. Minister from Somalia, please.

MR. BEILEH: Yes. I need to respond to the dollar and the euro being the most -- the strongest, and the currencies of trade. I think history tells us that at each time there were currencies that were stronger than others; and, therefore, it is not strange that we have these two currencies being the strongest one at this particular point in time.

But as far as trade is concerned, if we start trading with our neighbors, and their neighbors, I think it is just time when our own currencies will get the trust by the other countries; and, therefore, an exchange regime will be put in place. I don't see why we have to need some other currency to trade to with Kenya. We have a shilling, and we let the market decide. They have also a shilling, or Ethiopia, the Birr; as well, there will be exchanges. There will be exchange on the border. Therefore, I think, this whole idea is based on our thinking that we are always trading with so far away countries; and, therefore, one currency has to be the one that's being used.

I think we have to put a lot of emphasis on our neighbors, and then their neighbors. The demand is right there; the supply is in the other country; and, I think, it's time that we focused on our -- on whether we can trade and throughout Africa; and that will eliminate in needing a faraway currencies to be our medium of exchange.

MR. DHEHBI: That matter of currency is very important in trade, but there is a psychological factor involved. Normally, if we look at objective economic parameters, there is no need to use the dollar because the U.S. has the most deficits, trade deficits, et cetera. So, it's not really the force or the quality of convergence of the currencies. It's, rather, I believe, a psychological matter.

I think that if we work on the convertibility and convergence of currencies, and the psychological aspect, then we can accelerate the process for -- or under which we will have a single currency. We can go through the ecu, and account units, et cetera, that require less convergence. So, the matter of currency, I think, is more of a psychological barrier than an economic fact, if you will. I think it's quite a unique situation, but, I think, that is the case.

MR. DIALLO: Yes, my colleagues, I think it is quite a singular situation because the matter of currency in trade is essential, of course, we have to recognize it. At any rate, it's a matter of exchange reserves, today, currency reserves. We all have to live in that sense and in the sense of the convertibility and convergence of our currencies. That is the case.

Everything is pegged or linked to the U.S. dollar today. That is the way it is. In Senegal, with eight countries, we felt that was not enough for trade amongst ourselves. We are members of the ECOWAS, which has the economic union; but we felt that it was necessary to look at this amongst these 15 countries. And that was -- with respect to the last question that was asked us -- of us, as well, in 2012, it was the will of heads of state that worked on that, that wanted that; and, as a result of it, our ministries of finance had no choice but to work on that and to move forward on it. What is going to happen? But I don't know; but we are determined to work towards achieving that common currency by the year 2020. Thank you very much.

MR. VILKAS: So, this concludes this press conference. Thank you.

IMF Communications Department

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