African governments and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have agreed on the urgent need to harness the continent’s rapid economic growth, as unrest and a plethora of challenges temper exuberance about the continent’s rise.
At a May 30, 2014, meeting in the Mozambique capital of Maputo, the IMF, finance ministers and central bank governors said a deeper “structural transformation” was needed so that ordinary citizens can benefit from the boom.
Although Sub-Saharan Africa is among the world’s fastest-growing regions, pervasive poverty and recent serious unrest in Nigeria, South Sudan, the Sahel region and possible recession in South Africa have tempered previous exuberance about “Africa’s rise.”
“Policies need to be designed in such a way to ensure that a surge in growth can also spur structural transformation,” according to the Maputo Joint Declaration.
Although government coffers have long been filled with the proceeds of mineral wealth, corruption, shady business contracts and mismanagement have meant that little filters down to people on the street. The continent still lacks adequate roads and energy supplies and needs more than $90 billion a year to improve infrastructure, according to IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde. The governments agreed, saying “Sub-Saharan Africa will need to redouble efforts to harness the opportunities offered by its abundant natural resources and ensure that their fruits are equitably shared.”
Lagarde said that policymakers had no illusions about the scale of the problems that Africa still faces.
“There has clearly been a solid trend of growth over the last few years, and obviously surprisingly so during the financial crisis,” she said. “There are also big issues to be addressed, and potential risks on the horizon.”
But she insisted the picture was better today than in previous decades.
“You have to flashback, what was it like 10 years ago?”