Africa Perspectives

IMF Africa Perspectives explores topics related to Africa with experts on the continent

March 27, 2024

Africa Perspectives is a series of virtual panel discussions organized by the IMF's African Department, and moderated by its director Abebe Aemro Selassie. The series provides an opportunity for policymakers, academics, analysts, and civil society to offer their perspectives on economic and policy issues relevant for sub-Saharan Africa. The events will be streamed throughout Africa and globally, and a video recording will be available on our website afterwards.


Rewatch previous episodes below.

The Africa Cheetah Run: Transforming Obstacles into Economic Opportunities | March 27, 2024

Carlos Lopes, Professor from the Mandela School of Public Governance at the University of Cape Town, joined Abebe Aemro Selassie, Director of the IMF's African Department.

In this episode, Professor Lopes shared his insights on the key obstacles to Africa’s economic performance–what he calls “the static model” based on commodity dependence–and how this model can be transformed to pioneer a new type of development. From the negative perceptions and representations of Africa to the current state of development, he  discussed the imperative that Africa embraces green and clean energy, which—in his vision—have the potential to industrialize the continent and ensure that it becomes champion of climate solutions.

Shaping Africa's Future: Development Challenges and Opportunities | February 6, 2024

Masood Ahmed, President of the Center for Global Development (CGD) and Abebe Aemro Selassie, Director of the IMF’s African Department discussed the challenges of tackling poverty and economic disparities, particularly on the African continent.

An esteemed leader in international economics and development, Sir Ahmed’s perspective is critical to understanding how nations can effectively navigate the complexities of modern development. In his current role at CGD and in previous pivotal roles at the IMF, the World Bank, and the UK’s Department for International Development, he has significantly influenced global development policy.

Towards A Resilient Macroeconomic Vision | July 20, 2023

Join us for a conversation between Atif Mian, Professor of Economics, Public Policy, and Finance at Princeton University and the IMF’s African Department Director, Abebe Aemro Selassie, to explore the nexus between finance and macroeconomics, in light of the big funding squeeze that African economies face at present as well as the continent’s longer-term development needs.

African economies are currently grappling with a significant funding squeeze amidst tightening global financial conditions. At the same time, these economies face large financing needs to realize their developmental ambitions, including with respect to improvements in education and infrastructure.

Managing this tension in the short run, while minimizing the risk of crises, will present policy makers with significant challenges. Over the long run, strong and inclusive economic growth will require concerted efforts to foster financial development and financial inclusion to broaden credit access sustainably.

The IMF’s African Department is pleased to host Professor Mian, who directs Princeton’s Julis-Rabinowitz Center for Public Policy and Finance and is a world-leading expert on the interplay between finance and the macroeconomy, both in the short and long run. In this conversation, we will delve into the strategies and policies to navigate the complex landscape confronting Africa’s diverse economies, and to secure sustainable financing against the backdrop of significant global uncertainty.


Boosting Inclusive Development: A Vision from a Nobel Laureate | May 31, 2023

While African countries are grappling with the fallout of exogenous shocks like Russia’s war in Ukraine and climate change, the continent’s leaders are also trying to tackle persistent structural issues. Healthcare services are under strain, as is education, with low enrollment and high dropout rates for children who in the next 5–10 years will provide about half of the world’s increase in working-age population.

Agriculture, a vital sector for food security and economic growth in the region, is constrained by low productivity, the impact of climate change, and limited access to modern technologies. Furthermore, economic growth remains stifled by insufficient investment and infrastructure, weak institutions, high unemployment, and income inequality.

The IMF’s African Department is pleased to host Michael Kremer, Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, where he directs the Development Innovation Lab. He is the joint winner of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Economics for the “experimental approach to alleviating global poverty.” 

Join us for a conversation between Professor Kremer and the IMF’s African Department Director, Abebe Aemro Selassie, to learn more about the key measures policymakers can take to address regional challenges as well as global ones like climate change and pandemics.


The Political Economy of Reforms | March 14, 2023

Sub-Saharan Africa is facing a confluence of challenges, including the legacy of COVID-19, spillovers from the war in Ukraine, armed conflicts and societal unrest in some countries, food insecurity, and climate change, to name a few. And macroeconomic imbalances in the context of a big funding squeeze—elevated inflation, large fiscal deficits, lower reserves and high debt—are back with a vengeance in some countries. These challenges necessitate agile policy responses often requiring difficult political choices and tradeoffs. Since there is no blueprint for ensuring successful reforms, it is paramount to understand the country-specific political, institutional, and economic context for reforms to yield fruitful outcomes. This session delves into understanding the political economy of reforms to identify lessons to help design, adopt, and implement successful policy reforms. What are the priority reforms required for sub-Saharan Africa? How do politics and existing institutions shape Africa’s priorities? Why do some reforms fail and what distinguishes successful reforms?

The IMF’s African Department is pleased to host Ken Opalo (Assistant Professor at Georgetown University, a non-resident fellow at the Center for Global Development) to discuss these issues.

The conversation will be moderated by the IMF’s African Department Director, Abebe Aemro Selassie.

Promoting Climate-Resilient and Green Development in Africa February 7, 2023

Sub-Saharan Africa has contributed little to global greenhouse gas emissions, and yet it is the world's most vulnerable region to climate change. Rising temperatures and sea levels, as well as rainfall anomalies, are increasing the frequency and intensity of natural disasters. Heavy dependence on rain-fed agriculture and limited ability to adapt to weather-related shocks means that the livelihoods of millions are threatened by climate-induced disasters. COP27, often dubbed as “the Africa” COP, has recently ended. World leaders gathered in Sharm El-Sheikh to discuss how to mobilize collective efforts for ambitious emission reductions and adaptation. What are the key implications for sub-Saharan Africa? What is needed to make the continent development path resilient to climate change, while preserving the sustainability of public finances? How can the region attain a just energy transition without jeopardizing the achievement of its development goals?

The IMF’s African Department is pleased to host Mavis Owusu-Gyamfi (Executive Vice President of the African Center for Economic Transformation) and Lee White (Gabon’s Minister of Water, Forest, the Sea and Environment) to discuss these issues.

The conversation will be moderated by the IMF’s African Department Director, Abebe Aemro Selassie.


Ms. Mavis Owusu-Gyamfi - Executive Vice President, African Center for Economic Transformation (ACET) ⌄
Prof. Lee White - Minister of Water, Forest, the Sea and Environment, Gabon ⌄

Gambling on Development: Why Some Countries Win and Others Lose | September 12, 2022

In the last thirty years, the developing world has undergone tremendous changes. Poverty has fallen, people live longer and healthier lives, and economies have been transformed. And yet many countries have simply missed the boat. Why have some countries prospered, while others have failed? In his new book, Gambling on Development: Why Some Countries Win and Others Lose, Prof. Stefan Dercon argues that the answer lies in a key "development bargain," whereby a country's elites shift from protecting their own positions to gambling on a growth-based future.

The IMF’s African Department hosted Stefan Dercon, Professor of Economic Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government and the Economics Department of the University of Oxford, and a Fellow of Jesus College, for a conversation with the IMF’s African Department Director, Abebe Aemro Selassie. Prof. Dercon is also Director of the Centre for the Study of African Economies.


Prof. Stefan Dercon ⌄

Central Bank Digital Currency and Private Digital Payments in Nigeria and Kenya: Challenges and Opportunities for Sub-Saharan Africa | June 10, 2022

Rapid developments worldwide in digital payments and crypto assets have raised interest in Africa for faster, simpler, cheaper, and safer financial payment systems. Some of our member countries are at the forefront of these innovations—e.g., Africa’s first central bank digital currency in Nigeria (e-Naira) and the widely acclaimed M-Pesa digital payment system in Kenya. The IMF’s African Department is pleased to put together a panel of distinguished policymakers: Dr. Patrick Njoroge, Governor of the Central Bank of Kenya, and Dr. Kingsley Obiora, Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. They will share their respective experiences and practical challenges in introducing CBDC/PDPs as well as discussing the possible benefits, costs, and key risks for our African membership. The conversation will be moderated by IMF African Department Director Abebe Aemro Selassie.


Dr. Kingsley Obiora, Deputy Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria ⌄
Dr. Patrick Njoroge, Governor, Central Bank of Kenya ⌄

Africa Perspectives is organized by Luca Antonio Ricci, Giovanni Melina, Charalambos Tsangarides, Harriet Tolputt, and Catherine Pattillo.