Press Briefing Regional Economic Outlook Sub- Saharan Africa

April 29, 2022



Director, African Department, IMF


Senior Communications Officer, IMF

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(7:00 a.m.)

MR. MOMBRIAL: Good morning, good afternoon and even good evening for some of you. Thank you for joining this press conference on the IMF Regional Economic Outlook for Sub-Saharan Africa. I'm Nico Mombrial with the IMF Communication Department. And I'm so pleased to introduce this morning the Director of the IMF Africa Department of Abebe Aemro Selassie. Abe welcome.

MR. SELASSIE: Thank you Nico.

MR. MOMBRIAL: Before taking your question, let me kick start our briefing today by turning to Abe. So, Abe, the regional economic outlook was written under a very complicated context. We have the war in Ukraine, the everlasting pandemic, increased inflation, and of course, climate change. Your report is called “A new shock and little room to maneuver”. Can you tell us a bit more about how the shock is going to impact your forecast for the region? But also, what kind of room, what kind of maneuver do countries in the region actually have?

MR. SELASSIE: Thanks, Nico. Indeed, extremely difficult economic policy making conditions for Sub-Saharan African countries. Let me first start by thanking you for joining us today for the launch of our regional economic outlook for Sub-Saharan Africa for April 2022. At the start of 2022 and even a little after in this third year of the pandemic, it looked like Sub-Saharan African countries were beginning to recover from the very difficult economic conditions they had encountered in 2020 and 2021. Unfortunately, most countries in the region are now facing a major setback. This follows of course the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has up ended global commodity markets and it represents a significant setback to the global economy and more so for most Sub-Saharan African countries.

This crisis, this latest crisis will be quite consequential for the most vulnerable countries and the most vulnerable people in the most vulnerable countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Before taking your questions, I want to draw on our latest assessments, which reflects really on how the crisis is affecting Sub-Saharan African countries. The invasion has triggered of course a global economic shock that is hitting the region at the most difficult time. One in which many countries remaining policy space has been significantly depleted. Most directly, several countries that are highly dependent on wheat import, with some sourcing a large proportion of the imports directly from Ukraine and Russia are going to be impacted. As well, higher fertilizer and oil prices will also increase the cost of harvesting the cost of production and provision of goods and services and erode living standards quite a bit in many countries. Surging oil and food prices are straining external and fiscal balances of many commodity importing countries exacerbating regional inflation pressures.

Indeed, over the last couple of months, we have increased our inflation projections significantly, lifting the regional average for 2022 by a full four percentage points, which represents the worst inflation [reading] in the region since 2008. But most importantly, high food prices have increased food security concerns across the continent and will hurt all segments of the population. Finally, this is a crisis on top of another crisis of course, one which threatens to compound some of the region's most pressing policy challenges, including the pandemics social and economic legacy, heightened security risks, particularly in the Sahel countries and tightening monetary policy conditions in advanced economies in response to rising global inflation. Turning to the economic outlook, in the second half of last year activity surprised on the upside lifting projected growth from 3.7 percent for 2021 to 4.5 percent.

But this year, a slower global recovery and a less benign outlook for commodity importers will mean that growth will shrink to 3.8 percent. Further, as always, these aggregate numbers of course masks significant differences amongst countries. Projected growth for oil exporters in 2022 has been revised up by about point eight percentage points, while growth for oil importers has been revised down by 0.4 percentage points. And among oil importers, downgrades are particularly pronounced for the most fragile economies. Looking ahead, we only expect growth to pick up to around 4 percent in 2023, or about 1.7 percent in per capita terms. While you know this is welcome, it is still not enough to help countries make ground -- a lot of the lost ground from the effects of the pandemic. It also makes the task of creating jobs, fighting climate change, and achieving the sustainable development goals that much harder to achieve. Indeed, per capita incomes are expected to remain 4½ percent below pre pandemic projections.

Further, with output and advanced economies expected to reach their pre pandemic trends in the near term the gap between the region and advanced economies is likely to persist. Against this backdrop, policymakers in Sub-Saharan Africa face an extremely challenging, uncertain and complicated policy outlook. One with rising concessional financing needs and heightened risks. First and foremost, I want to stress that the COVID pandemic is still a concern, and countries need to advance vaccination campaigns to contain the risk of new COVID-19 waves. On the economic policy fronts governments will face three immediate challenges.

First, authorities must shield the most vulnerable households from rising food and energy prices but doing so without exacerbating debt vulnerabilities will require some very difficult policy tradeoffs. The considerations in managing these tradeoffs include: in terms of food prices, governments must of course, do all that they can to ensure food security is assured for the most vulnerable households. Ideally, this ought to be done through targeted transfers to these households. But where this is not feasible, transparent, targeted and time limited tax reductions, and or price subsidies, both with clear sunset clauses again, is a second vessel tentative especially in countries with weak social safety nets.

With respect to fuel prices, pass through of international prices to domestic prices will be important given the generally regressive nature of fuel price subsidies. We recognize Of course given the size of the shock; some countries may elect to smooth the path through overtime. But given the high cost and regressivity of subsidies it will be important to keep this duration short, make the subsidies transparent and communicate, communicate, communicate actively on why the tradeoffs and pricing action plans.

Now, on the other hand, in commodity exporting countries, particularly the region's oil exporters, it will be important of course to ensure that the windfall gains from higher commodity prices are used optimally including by rebuilding policy buffers. Overall, we recognize very much that this is not an easy task that policymakers face and many countries will require additional international support. The recent 23 billion SDR allocation in the second half of last year has helped to finance essential spending during the pandemic and boost international reserves, and the G20's pledged to channel an additional 100 billion SDR’s to vulnerable countries is the most important step forward.

In this regard, the newly created Resilience and Sustainability Trust by the IMF will help ensure that these resources are used to provide critically needed policy support for longer term, and longer-term funding for many countries in our region.

But the international community, we feel, needs to go further. For example, by removing obstacles for quicker debt restructuring under the Common Framework. That will allow -- That should allow for swift, and efficient debt restructuring.

The second policy challenge area is balancing the need to address inflationary pressures, without undermining the ongoing recovery. With rising inflationary pressures, output level -- And output levels below the pre-Pandemic trends. In most countries, central banks face a difficult balancing act between curbing inflation and supporting growth. Authorities need to monitor inflation developments carefully and be prepared to take action if inflationary pressures look to be persisting.

And then the third broad challenge is that many countries will need to address is that of exchange rate pressures, stemming from higher global interest rates, and heightened global uncertainty. For countries with peg [reduction] rate regimes, authorities should find the right balance between monitoring fiscal policy to maintain the credibility of the peg. And for countries with more flexible arrangements, depreciation can act as a valuable shock absorber. But this is often constrained by currency mismatches, shallow effects markets, and/or other complications.

In this context, monetary tightening may still be needed in these countries to support the currency, even in the face of weaker economic activity. Looking beyond the pandemic, of course, navigating the more difficult geopolitical environment, continuing to advance reforms that will create jobs, jobs, jobs. And, you know, making progress toward sustainable development goals will require strong, decisive policy action. And we continually engage authorities in these policy areas also.

Nicolas, let me stop here and take questions, if there are any.

MR. MOMBRIAL: Thank you, Abebe. We will now take your questions, which you can send us on online, on the IMF Press Center, on WebEx. If you are on WebEx, please raise your hand, and turn your camera on when you speak. I'm going to start with WebEx this morning. I think I have a question from Ali from AFP. Ali, please go ahead.

MR. ALI: Yes, thank you Nicolas, and thank Mr. Selassie, for this presentation. I had a question on one of the points that is highlighted in the reported, it is social tension that some African countries face. If we try to grow(inaudible) with what was happening in 2008, on the other hand, or (inaudible).

MR. MOBRIAL: Thank you. Ali, were you done with your question? You froze. Yes? I think he was.

MR ALI: My question was, what comparison can we draw with this period of time to 2008? And, second question, do you think that it can happen again? This kind of event can happen again at the time when we are facing very high crisis all over the world, actually. Thank you.

MR. MOMBRIAL: Okay. Thank you, Ali. Abe.

MR. SELASSIE: Thank you for that question. You know, there are some similarities with 2008-9, particularly the fact that fuel and -- food and fuel prices are, you know, were then also very, very significant. But one thing that differentiates the current period, and why we are very concerned, relative to 2008-9 in sub-Saharan Africa is that, at least back in 2008-9, countries had some buffers. Some room for maneuver. Debt levels were very limited, so countries were able to have a robust fiscal response to that crisis.

This time, one reason why we're very worried is, that room for maneuver has been exhausted. Even before the Pandemic, death levels were, of course, elevated in the region, and countries were beginning to address that.

Then came the Pandemic, which exhausted what limited space remained in many cases. And now you have this shock, which is impacting, as I said earlier, the most vulnerable households -- The most vulnerable countries acutely, and governments are going to have to provide some support. So that limited room for maneuver is a cause for concern. And, more generally, I think, you know, reflecting the effects of the pandemic, we had already seen quite a bit of rising poverty, inequality. So, the ground is certainly fertile for more, more protests. This is, indeed, a source of concern.

MR. MOMBRIAL: Thank you. Thank you, Abe. So, I think, for next turn, I'm going to turn to Marie Rafaela Ntolo from Africa 24. Marie? Okay, I can see Marie on the screen, but I cannot hear anything. Marie? Just can you try one more? Okay.

Then I'll just move to the next question and try to go back to Marie afterward. Simon, from Today's News? Simon, please come in.

MR. ATEBA: Yes. Thank you, Nicolas, for taking my question. Thank you, Director Selassie for doing this. This is Simon Ateba from Today News Africa in Washington D.C.

This seems to be a lot of bleak report apart from the IMF, economic growth has been downgraded once again from 4.5 percent last year to 3.8 percent this year. And even next year, where you have seen in the report, even when Africa goes back 4 percent, it dependent on whether the war in Ukraine ends, and COVID, if we have more vaccines. But I really want you to talk about the three policy priorities that you are suggesting in the report, balancing inflation, and not adding to debt, even as we now begin the war in Ukraine, and the managing the exchange rate.

If you can talk a bit of about how Africa should be able to implement those three policy priorities? And maybe the last thing is this school closure that you talked about in the report, it almost destroyed children permanently. And if you can talk about how the children recover from, you know, the lockdowns of 2020 and 2021 that were almost devastating. Thank you.

MR. SELASSIE: Thank you Simon. You know, in my opening remarks, I tried to emphasize just how difficult a policy environment this is for policy makers in our countries. Really, my heart goes out to Ministers of Finance, Central Bank Governors, and other policy makers.

So, it is exactly because, you know, the room for maneuver that countries have is limited, that very difficult tradeoffs are going to have to be made. Both in terms, for example, of how much space countries are going to have to ease fiscal policy, to be able to support -- To provide more subsidies, for example. To put more -- To bigger households. Inflation, of course, has to be tackled by central banks. That threatens to accelerate. Why? Because inflation will erode, will erode the living standards of the poorest the most, right? So, some action there is going to be needed. Action that could be detrimental to growth recovery. So, some very difficult tradeoffs.

Now, what can help? I think, you know, first and foremost, looking at what internal resources there are, to make sure they're being allocated to the highest priority areas at this moment. I think one thing that we highlight in the report is, social policy emphasis is going to be very important in the next couple of years, to address exactly the type of scarring that has resulted from the Pandemic. Like, perhaps, making a surge in health spending. To make sure kids can catch up with learning losses that occurred in 2020 and 2021.

Poverty has spiked. Maybe more robust social protection programs in those geographic areas, and those, you know, sectors of the economy where poverty has gone up. I mean, that kind of emphasis, I think is going to be really, really important. The international community can also help. As I noted earlier, of course, this is a new shock. And this shock requires incremental financing, and not just reallocating support that was already committed.

So, I think the international community can help, by coming forward with robust concessional financing, and we look forward to making this case to international community. For those countries where debt is an issue, I think, you know, a debt restructuring framework that will allow debt relief to come through quickly, so that new financing can be provided to these countries is also another big element of how the international community can help. Thank you.

MR. MOMBRIAL: I'm going to try to go back to Marie. I see you on camera now. Can you unmute yourself? So, Marie, we can see you speak, but we cannot hear you. Just try one more time. I can just read your question. No? You're muted again. Okay. Apologies, Marie. There's no sound. I know you shared your question with us before, so I'm just going to read it for Abebe.

So, Marie was asking, the rise of raw materials' pricing, including wheat and oil, has increased inflation in Africa. What strategies could be implemented by African countries to strengthen and sustain their economies' resiliency and set the foundation of sustainable growth with little foreign dependency?

MR. SELASSIE: I think that's a good question. You know, I think what I've been emphasizing so far, of course, is the near-term, the very difficult trade-offs policymakers face. In particular, I mean, the effect of higher food and fuel prices on people is being felt right now and some policy action is needed. And that's the trade-offs I was discussing earlier.

But over the medium term, of course, you know, our countries have tremendous potential to, of course, boost agriculture production. There are very interesting plans by the AFDB, for example, on how, even in the near-term, there can be a robust response in terms of increasing wheat production in the region. So, I think facilitating that kind of a supply response through whatever interventions are going to be needed is another very important area of emphasis.

I mean to the point where, of course, we should be envisaging not just self-sufficiency in terms of, you know, materials like wheat, but even exporting to the rest of the world. So, I think, you know, that kind of supply response is exactly what we talk about, the kind of medium-term policy environment, improvements that are needed in the region.

Coming to commodity exports, of course. You know, we do want to facilitate that also as much as possible. Our countries have these resources. But the challenge here, of course, is that, you know, we're also in a transition phase towards greener and more climate-friendly energy sources.

So, you know, I think very careful calculations and considerations are going to have to be made in terms of, you know, whether to put a lot of resources in these areas which could be stranded over the medium term.

More generally, I think, you know, we want to facilitate that kind of economic diversification in the region, be a little bit less dependent on natural resource exports, and more on the kind of labor-intensive economic sectors like manufacturing and other services that we can utilize. So that balance has to be struck and the kind of approach that's going to be pursued will depend on a country-by-country basis, and that's, in general, how we engage with policymakers in the region.

MR. MOMBRIAL: Thank you, Abe. So let me turn now to Rachel Savage from Reuters. Rachel?

QUESTIONER: Thank you so much for hosting this press conference. So, the first question is, and it touches a little bit on what you just mentioned about commodity exporters on the green transition. But in the short term, are there any bright sports in Sub-Saharan Africa?

And my second question, it's a little bit tangential, but Central African Republic announced yesterday they would be adopting Bitcoin as equal tender. What is the IMF's position on this, and could crypto currencies be a source of support, perhaps, for countries that are struggling with their exchange rates?

MR. SELASSIE: Thank you. So, on the bright spots. I mean, you know, provided commodity prices, particularly oil prices remain elevated for a while, I think the 8 oil-exporting countries will benefit quite a bit from higher prices.

Now, important thing I should note, even in countries like Nigeria, Chad, Angola that would be benefiting from higher oil prices is that, you know, even in those countries in the near term, the task of transferring this windfall to the most vulnerable households which are, you know, as we speak, being impacted by higher food and fuel prices is not an easy one. So, I think even the commodity exporting countries that will be benefiting, even there, there is a tricky policy challenge that policymakers need to address.

More generally, Rachel, I do want to emphasize that, you know, yes, it is a very difficult policy environment, but it is a region which has been very, very resilient. Its resilience has been tested time and again, unfortunately, in recent years.

But I do remain very optimistic about the medium- and long-term growth potential of our countries. It's just making sure that we come through this period, that's what we're focusing on, as quickly as possible so that, you know, our recovery can get underway.

Turning to the recent news from Bangui that their government has adopted the option to use Bitcoin and other currencies as alternative means of payment. I think the point we would stress here, I mean, first, this is very new legislation and we're still trying to understand the full implications of this.

But the point I would stress here is that I think it's really important to not see such things as a panacea for economic challenges our countries face. So as part of a well-structured, you know, move towards digitalization, towards using, you know, central bank regional currencies, rolling those out. You know, I think it can contribute to a robust payment system, settlement system in our countries.

But, you know, just adopting willy-nilly, you know, the readiness to use Bitcoin, et cetera, is something that has to be looked at very, very carefully. You have to make sure that, you know, the legislative framework in terms of the transparency of financial flows, the governance framework around it is all robustly in place. That you have a robust payment system.

And, also, importantly, inclusion. Inclusion. Inclusion. You know, even as the penetration of technology of mobile phones in our region has been really very impressive over the last many years, it's by no means universal. So, what does this mean to adopt this for those people that have access to the digital technologies, but those that don't. So, all of these things have to be taken into account and not to see this as a panacea for the economic challenges our countries face.

MR. MOMBRIAL: Thank you, Abebe. Next, I have Matthew Lee from Inner City. Matthew, please come in.

QUESTIONER: Sure. Thanks a lot. I have a question, but I want to ask one follow-up to that previous question. Issues arise with, like, El Salvador and the IMF and its criticism of them adopting Bitcoin. So, I just wanted to know if you can say, did they speak with the IMF, I guess, before making the announcement, and do you have any guidance?

I guess, I think there probably will be other countries that make such a move. What do you think they should do if they decide in their own sovereign way to move in that direction, do you think that there's a role in speaking with the IMF for it?

And the overall question. I'm sorry. I think there have been a lot of positive questions, and I hope this is not perceived as a negative one, but there have been a number of coups of late on the continent, and elsewhere in the world, but I would like if you can speak in a general way about, you know, Mali, Chad, Sudan, Guinea, Burkina Faso.

How does this impact do you think, you know, economically? And, also, the IMF's communications with countries when there's an abrupt change in governance? How does it really work in terms of tracking down COVID-19 funds and discussing economic issues going forward? Thanks a lot for taking the question.

MR. SELASSIE: Thanks. You know, actually, we do have a small section in the report on central bank digital currencies where we highlight the pros and cons, you know, the steps, you know, identify some of the recent initiatives in the region, including, for example, the e-Naira rolled out by Nigeria, and the kinds of considerations that have to be taken into account as governments think about adopting central bank digital currencies.

And of course, you know, at the IMF, this is a very important new area of work that we are developing and supporting those countries that are coming for us for capacity development assistance. So, you know, it is a new area and one where, I think, a lot of learning needs to be happening as it's rolled out.

Turning to the issue of, you know, spat of coup d'états that we've seen in the region. I think, you know, look, it reflects, of course, you know, in the Sahel countries, a lot of the insecurity that has been playing out in the region for the last, you know, really starting in Mali in 2012, and spilling over into neighboring countries.

You know, one takeaway for me is that I think a failure to address robustly, forcefully the security challenge in Mali is what has led to the spared in neighboring Sahel countries. I think that's one takeaway.

Second is that, you know, in many of these countries as, you know, the security challenge has mounted as hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced. Unfortunately, I don't think enough was done to provide governments with resources as they were diverting resources from development spending to security spending to offset the loss in development spending.

So, in a way, you had a vicious circle in terms of, you know, supporting people and, perhaps, undermining governments in the region that, you know, were democratically elected. So, really, I think it behooves the international community to see what can be done to support governments in the region to make sure that this doesn't continue to happen.

And then the last point I want to make here is that, you know, the coups are, of course, disappointing because, you know, we are seeing increasingly more and more countries moving toward a more democratic dispensation. Very voice-threat democracies in many cases, and fundamentally development requires a strong social contract, and I think that can best be had through a democratic dispensation. So, you know, when these coup d’état happen we will, of course, will engage with governments provided political economic conditions are headed in the right direction. But I think, ultimately, I think moving in a direction of democratic dispensation is fundamental for strengthening the social contract and making sure that you have inclusive development, and that's what I hope all our countries head toward.

MR. MOMBRIAL: Thank you, Abe. If it's okay with you, I think we're going to move now to take some questions that are more focused on specific countries.

So, I'm going to start with Julians Amboko from the Kenyan Local Daily. Julians, please come in.

QUESTIONER: Thank you very much for this opportunity. Very quick question. The Kenyan National Treasury has indicated shelving plans to go to the commercial market by Eurobond. What financing options does the IMF see for countries such as Kenya, whereby on the one hand global financing conditions are tightening, on the other hand it is enough to crowd out the domestic market. And secondly, IMF just concluded the third review of Kenya's program with of very cohesive review of the monetary environment. Here we are facing a crippling dollar shortage. What's IMF's assessment of Kenya's FX position, and how do we harmonize the assessment versus the reality on the ground? Thank you.

MR. SELASSIE: Thank you. So, I think Kenya is a good example of a country that was hit very, very, you know, badly, of course, by the pandemic –- the tourism sector suffered, much the rest of the economy – but has also taken really very impressive measures to try and deal with the legacies of the pandemic. I think over the last year, it's been really impressive to see the government advancing quite a few economic reforms, and I was happy to see, for example, in the current fiscal year of 2021-2022, tax revenues are expected to overperform only by a small margin and this, of course, will be helpful to help defray some of the cost of increased support that the economy is going to need as a result of this latest shock.

Without the deficit necessarily needing to widen, so I think this is a welcome step. This shock, as we were discussing earlier, is really, really problematic for our countries. Why, because it's going to affect the import bill quite a bit, so it's not surprising that we've some pressure on exchange rates coming from this shock. And, indeed, in countries like Kenya, where the exchange rate is flexible, where you have relatively deep and liquid financial markets, allowing the exchange to move is -– I think as the Central Bank of Kenya has done -– the right policy step. I think in the highly uncertain global environment we face, making sure that reserves remain adequate -– there is some exchange rate flexibility to absorb this -– is all important.

In terms of the financing outlook. I think what the government strategy has all along been, is to have a balanced approach in terms of financing, and depending on international market conditions, domestic market conditions, to go through what would make sense. But I think it's really nice that Kenya is in that position, it reflects its wealth of economic strength that it can make sure that it goes for what is optimal in terms of debt matter and strategy by way of financing sources. And I'm sure -– I'm not aware of the recent decisions that you made -– but I'm sure kind of that decision will be made by Kenyan authorities reflecting on what will make sense and will do with regard to any effects it can have on domestic crowding out and other considerations that you noted.

MR. MOMBRIAL: Okay. Thank you, thank you, Abe. Next, I will stay on WebEx, and go to George from Joy FM Ghana.

No, we can't hear you, George. You're muted, can you unmute yourself?

Okay, let me move to maybe Kemi if you want to come in and then I'm going go back to George, hopefully it will work. And, George, if you don't mind, type your question in the chat in WebEx, and if it doesn't work, I can read it for you.

Kemi? Okay, sorry, I'm also having an issue with Kemi. So, I have a question here from Thando Maeko from Business Day South Africa: So, the U.S. growth and unemployment as MP target, where some emerging economies like South Africa are solely focused on inflation targeting, with interest placed of price stability and growth. Is this an outdated policy, or is this the best way for South Africa’s growth stability?

MR. SELASSIE: Thanks, Nico. So it is, of course, up to each country to come up with what the ideal target for monetary policy is. And South Africa, as you said, targets inflation. The question though –- the broader question in South Africa, I don't think it's lost on either the Central Bank or the Ministry of Finance that creating jobs to address the huge inequality, the huge need that the country has to address unemployment is lost on them. But the question is –- is monetary policy what will make the difference or is it a kind of really deep and robust reforms that South Africa needs to create the millions of jobs that are needed. I think the assessment of both policy makers in South Africa, and our assessment, also, is that structural reforms are going to have to play by far the most dominant role in job creation in South Africa. So, I think that's where the emphasis needs to be, I think, in my view, to address the unemployment challenge.

MR. MOMBRIAL: Okay. Thank you, Abe. So, while we are trying to fix the issue with George or read his question, I also have a question from Jocelyn-Claude Ndouyou from Cameroon Tribune: As of today, what is the state of implementation of the IMF program in Cameroon? How do you assess the efforts made by Cameroon to meet your expectation recommendation? And third question, is the IMF contemplating support for African countries that are starting to suffer the effect of an additional shock after the Covid-19? And, if yes, what type of support? Thank you.

MR. SELASSIE: Thanks. So, the Cameroon program remains on track, and, you know, there is an upcoming review I understand. And that he will go out to make sure that the reform efforts that are in the program to advance governments, promote transparency, tackle corruption, as well as other macroeconomic challenges remain on track, and we will update you at the end of that review mission on the findings.

On what the IMF is doing in support of countries that are facing this latest shock. I think first and foremost, of course, very quickly out of the gate –- as soon as we saw all of the ramifications of the pandemic, we have been having discussions with each country to see how we can be of support. In some cases, countries have asked for additional financing or augmentation of existing programs, and we are advancing those discussions as rapidly as possible to make sure that we can be as supportive as we can. In other cases, the request has been for policy discussion on exactly the kind of tradeoffs, the kind of policy options, what other countries have been doing to address food- and fuel-type pressures. So, we have been in active engagement supporting countries with documentation, with capacity development assistance on the kind of adjustments that they want to make on tax and spending plans.

And last but not least, we, of course, also have been very, very actively engaged internationally to make sure that we can join up efforts to support counties that are being impacted by the food crisis in particular. So, the Managing Director has been very, very actively reaching out to UN agencies, to the WTO, to the G7, G20, to make sure that our counties are not left behind and get all of the required support at this very difficult time, particularly for something as sensitive and consequential as food security challenge. So, this is something very much that is a focus of our work and will remain so for the next few months.

QUESTIONER: Thank you, Abe. So maybe if I can -- okay, we got the question from George on Ghana.


QUESTIONER: So, George was asking: the Finance Minister of Ghana has said no to IMF program in dealing with the current challenges facing the economy. At the IMF are you okay with this?

Okay, so that was the question. And maybe while I'm on the country updates we also have a question from Adérito Caldeira from Mozambique. He was asking if you can give an update on where we are with Mozambique.

MR. SELASSIE: Okay. So, on Ghana, of course, it's up to the government to decide this and we, of course, are okay with that.

Second, on Mozambique, we recently reached agreement on a program that we will support under –- the extended credit facility –- a program we think is a relatively ambitious one, that will look to address the significant macroeconomic challenges Mozambique has been facing in the wake of the pandemic, and help bridge the country towards the very, potentially very, very strong outlook that the country has going forward as it becomes a significant natural gas exporter in the outer years.

So, in the near term, a lot of emphasis in the context of the program on making sure that, you know, social protection is advanced, making sure that there is a balance being struck between addressing the infrastructure the country has with the human development progress that needs to be made. Promoting governance and transparency is another core aspect of the program, and we look forward to supporting the authorities' ambitious reform agenda in this vein.

MR. MOMBRIAL: Okay, thank you, Abe.

I'm afraid that's all the time we have with this press conference on the Sub-Saharan Africa Regional Economic Outlook.

I'd like to thank Abe for his participation this morning, and for his very insightful answers to the questions. But I also want to thank you all for turning up this morning and your very good questions.

For more information on the Sub-Saharan Africa Regional Economic Outlook, you can visit our website at For those whose questions we could not answer, please reach to me directly, and we will try to get you an answer.

Before I say goodbye, I think it's our last press conference for these Spring meetings, so I also wanted to give a big thank you to our colleagues in the studio that you all don't see, but who are the backbone of our press conferences and why we can do all that.

Have a good day –- or even for some of you, I think, a good night by now.

Thank you.

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IMF Communications Department

PRESS OFFICER: Nicolas Mombrial

Phone: +1 202 623-7100Email: