Economic outlook for Sub-Saharan Africa is encouraging – says IMF

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 15 April 2019:

African economies are facing a huge challenge after the last global economic crisis hit many African countries quite hard. Many are still struggling to recover. Last week, the IMF held a press conference.

“In many of these countries public investments has helped spur higher growth, while also, of course, translating into an increase in public debt levels, so there is a need to strike a better balance between public debt increase on one hand, and the continued investments that are needed in public investment,” says the IMF.

This is a transcript of that press conference which took place in Washington, on the 12 April 2019, led by Abebe Aemro Selassie – Director of the IMF African Department, and Lucie Mboto Fouda – Senior Communications Officer at the IMF.  This is what they said:

FOUDA: Good morning everyone, and welcome to this Press Conference by Mr. Abebe Aemro Selassie, whom you all know, the Director of the African Department at the IMF.

I’m Lucie Mboto Fouda, with the Communication Department.

We are also launching today the Regional Economic Outlook for Sub-Saharan Africa, which we posted yesterday under embargo. And that has now gone live. So, I trust you had access to it.

Abebe will offer a few opening remarks, and then he will be happy to take your questions. Abebe?

SELASSIE: Thank you, Lucie. A very good morning to you all, thank you for joining us this morning. We are launching our Regional Economic Outlook, I’m just coming from a session where we launched that, a few remarks from my end before perhaps turning to your questions.

The Sub-Saharan Africa economy continues to recover in terms of economic growth. This year we are expecting growth to accelerate to 3.5 percent from 3 percent last year. But these regional average numbers mask quite a lot of difference in terms of outcomes across the region.

Specifically, some 21 countries are expected to grow at 5 percent or more this year, and so, you know, with per capita income increases that are markedly larger than many countries in the rest of the world. And these economies that are growing fast tend to be the more diversified economies.

Still, there are in other set of countries, around 24, mainly resource-dependent economies that are facing sluggish growth in the near term and are seeing slower improvements in standards of livings. This group includes some of the larger economies in the region, the likes of Angola, Nigeria, and South Africa, which account for more than 50 percent of the region’s output.

External and domestic developments are having a betting on the economic outlook. On the external front perhaps the most important factors have been the volatility and global financial conditions, as well as the volatility in commodity prices which are posing a challenge for policymakers.

Domestically, one pressure point remains rising public debt vulnerabilities, these are elevated in some countries, and posing a challenge. The reason for the increase in debt levels tends to be very country-specific, for some it is due to addressing the large infrastructure needs. In others it’s been the effect of the commodity price shock that hit countries between 2014 and 2016. And yet in others it’s been procyclical policies which have led to the marked increase in debt levels.

Looking ahead, we see basically two broad implications for policies. First in the fast-growing economies, the likes of Benin, Ethiopia, Ghana, Senegal, there is a need to hand over the reins of growth from the public to the private sector.

In many of these countries public investments has helped spur higher growth, while also, of course, translating into an increase in public debt levels, so there is a need to strike a better balance between public debt increase on one hand, and the continued investments that are needed in public investment.

In the slower-growing economies, the likes of, as I just mentioned, Angola, Nigeria, South Africa, there is a need to pursue reforms to facilitate economic diversification, and address remaining economic imbalances, many of these cases, private investments remain weak, and a strong focus is needed to address the constraints that are holding such investments back.

One development that we are very hopeful will facilitate growth, is increased trade integration in the region. We are very encouraged by the progress that has been made towards the African Continental Free Trade Area. Once completed the trade agreement will establish a market of 1.2 billion people, with a combined GDP of $2.5 trillion.

The benefits could be substantial, particularly if countries tackle the non-tariff bottlenecks to trade, including by investing in infrastructure, lowering logistical costs and improving trade facilitation.

What is interesting, we think, is that intraregional exports in Africa are more diversified and have a higher technology content, than Africa’s exports to much the rest of the world.

And just to give you a couple of numbers on this, 40 percent of intraregional trade is accounted for by manufactured goods, whereas the region exports to the world 75 percent of such exports tend to be minerals, the likes of crude oil, and other commodities.

Still, one thing to note of course, is that, to ensure the benefits of intraregional integration are shared by all, policymakers should be mindful of the adjustment costs that integration could entail and move swiftly to address those.

In addition to these more medium-term challenges that I’ve been noting we see, you know, countries of course have been hit by significant shocks. Two such examples I want to highlight. I think the first is the security challenge.

Overall the conflict levels in the region tend to be much lower than in the ’90s, and even early 2000s. But countries in the Sahel and Lake Chad Basin are facing considerable security threats, and this region (inaudible) economic outlook, we have done some work looking at the recent trends, and the economic impact that conflicts are having.

This is an issue of great concern, and we are discussing with country authorities how best we can minimize their diversion of resources away from much needed development spending.

Another example of the kind of shocks that policymakers have to contend with of course are weather-related shocks. As you know, Cyclone Idai has a devastating impact in Southeast Africa, leading to the significant loss of life and damage.

We are doing everything we can to support the countries that have been affected. Just to give an example, we have moved very rapidly to support Mozambique through a rapid credit facility. We expect the Executive Board to consider this request as soon as next week, within a month of the hurricane hitting — the cyclone hitting Mozambique.

In Zimbabwe, yesterday we announced a staff-monitored program which will support the government’s economic policies, and we are having extensive dialogue with authorities.

And then, Malawi, we are in discussions with authorities to provide additional support through the existing ECF arrangement we have with them.

Before I end, I would like to stress that Sub-Saharan Africa remains a region of tremendous economic potential, and while the global environment is increasingly uncertain, there is much that the countries are doing and can do to sustain very high rates of growth, which we are certain will translate into continued improvements and development outcomes.

I will now turn to — raising any questions you have and I’m going to — a copy of the report that we’ve just published will be available as you go out, outside. Thank you so much.

FOUDA: Yes. Let me start here.

QUESTIONER: I have two questions related to Mozambique. You mentioned the credit facility because of the cyclone. I wonder if you could tell us how much you are looking at. And regarding Mozambique, some of the civil society organizations have said that Mozambique should not pay the debt to Credit Suisse where some officials were involved in this corrupt dealing for the loans, I would like to know what’s your opinion about that.

And also, if you can tell us what’s your opinion about the battle for the extradition of the Former Minister of Finance, Manuel Chang, between the United States and Mozambique. And on Angola, if you could tell us, what are the main priorities that you would like to see the Angolan Government implement? Thank you.

SELASSIE: Thank you. So, the rapid credit facility with Mozambique, I believe is of the order of $120 million, and as I mentioned earlier, we are hoping to present this request to the Executive Board. We have sent the request to the Executive Board, and we hope the Board will consider it as early as next week.

With regards to outstanding debt that Mozambique has. As we have noted sometime back, Mozambique’s debt level had become unsustainable in the wake of the revelation that there was significant borrowing that hadn’t been disclosed. What we have been calling basically is to find ways for the government to ensure that debt becomes sustainable.

The government and the dialog they’re having with their creditors, of course, to find ways of ensuring that debt reverts to sustainable levels. Much in the same way on the question of the judicial inquiry that’s going, it’s beyond my area of competence and cannot comment.

On Angola, we have a program with which we are supporting the government’s adjustment efforts. Frankly, the program has been off to a very, very good start. The authorities are making very strong strides towards addressing macroeconomic imbalances that they’ve been confronting for the last couple of years. We’ve been very impressed by the extent and depth of the reforms that they’ve been engaged in.

We think that going forward, one of the things that we need to do better, we need to strengthen, is introducing social protection programs to try and make sure that the adjustment will be progressive and avoid adverse effects on the poor in particular.

We also are looking forward to completing the reforms that are needed to facilitate much more competition in product markets in Angola, which (inaudible) to be closed. These kinds of structural reforms we feel will be very important to spur growth. So, we’ll be working on those issues in the coming months.

FOUDA: Yes, let me take the one in the middle here and get back to you.

QUESTIONER: I have two questions. If you look at the report by Vera Songwe, which was the executive secretary of UNECA, she said for the Africa free trade area to succeed, African countries should diversify their exports. But if you look at the record since 1990, only three countries have succeeded in doing that. Do you agree that this is a kind of solution that will be working?

Another specific question on Ethiopia. The IMF projected 7.7 percent GDP gross for 2019. But if you look at the country, there is internal pollical crisis, chaos, and growing conflict and uncertainty that erodes business confidence. And where do you think the social growth comes from in a situation like this? Thank you.

SELASSIE: Thank you. On the AFCTA. So, you know, one of the striking things, as I just noted, about intra-Africa trade, is that it tends to be much more in processed goods rather than natural resource exports. One reason for this of course, is that quite a lot of countries tend to produce similar natural resource exports and, you know, so they don’t need to import them from another African country and will instead export them to the rest of the region. But with each other, they tend to exchange much more processes goods.

I think just to give you one example, I mean the country I know well, Uganda, you know, Uganda, when it’s exporting to Rwanda to DRC to South Sudan, tends to export, you know, building materials, bottled water, other bottled drinks, maize flour that is processed, and the like. So, what the AFTCA we’re very hopeful will do, will facilitate avenues for greater diversification, more, you know, wider markets in which countries can produce and export towards.

So, we share the ECA’s assessment, and our report confirms this is one of the dimensions which will be important from the AFCTA.

On Ethiopia, I mean Ethiopia has been one of the fastest growing economies in the region over the last many years of course. An important driver of this growth has been significant public investment. And as I noted earlier, you know, this investment continues and is spurring growth. What we’re looking for in economies like Ethiopia but also the likes of Kenya, Senegal, where public investment and infrastructure has been an important driver to growth, is to hand over the reigns of growth from the public investment more towards facilitating private investment. And this handover of the reigns of growth is I think the policy priority.

FOUDA: Let me take one question on this side of the room, and then I’ll get to you guys. Yes.

QUESTIONER: My question is, in your climate outlook report, you projected that Ghana could be the fastest growing economy in Africa. The concern here is that what’s your advice to government to ensure that this growth comes along with creating jobs for the youth? And, we’ve completed the program with the IMF. What’s your advice to government to ensure that we stay on track and maybe in four years or even two years’ time, we don’t come back to the Fund again for another policy credit (inaudible) or support or even program? Thank you.

SELASSIE: So, I think the jobs agenda is one not unique to Ghana. I think all countries in the region but frankly, beyond the region also, have the challenge of needing to create, you know, well-paying jobs for the job market entrance and of course, people wanting to switch jobs. So, this is a broad agenda.

What can countries do, you know, and what can Ghana do specifically? I think continue to make sure that you invest in human capital, I think is very important. Investing in schools, investing in the health of the population I think really continues to be a very important driver, you know, to have people entering the job markets having the necessary skills, the necessary flexibility to be able to do the jobs of the future. Making sure that you don’t have any distortions coming from the public sector in terms of macroeconomic aggregates, I think will also be a very important objective.

Again, facilitating growth for private investment. Identifying, as I noted earlier, tackling the constraints, the barriers to private investment will be very important. Making, you know, the thousands and thousands of informal companies. You know, finding ways for those companies to grow and enter into the formal sector. Removing barriers. Removing the burdens that they face in growing. Access to credit. All of those kind of micro-reforms are going to be very important for the job’s agenda in making sure that this growth is labor intensive enough and absorbing enough, you know, and creating enough jobs.

On post-IMF program policies in Ghana, I mean, you know, we’ve seen a significant improvement, you know, in narrowing of the macroeconomic imbalances that was confronting the Ghanaian economy in 2014-15. I think staying on this course will be what is important. Making sure that fiscal deficits remain manageable.

Making sure that the resources that are being borrowed continue to be used on projects of the highest rates of return. Making sure that the calibration of monetary policy remains one that’s consistent with keeping inflation at bay, the exchange rate at competitive levels. You know, the kind of things that the government has been pursuing over the last couple of years. And staying that course is what is important.

I think, you know, you have policy makers that know that very well. We like the reforms that have been made to strengthen institutions. The new fiscal counsel that’s coming into being. So, making sure that these institutions remain robust, effective, and policies are continuing in the direction that they’ve been in the last couple of years.

FOUDA: Let’s go to this side of the room. Gentleman in the first row, please.

QUESTIONER: Nigeria and I believe several other African countries have had to suffer because of the outflow of illicit funds. I want to know, what kind of commitment can we have from the IMF in the effort to repatriate some of these funds? Thank you.

SELASSIE: So, just to very clear, I think the front and center role of course for making sure that economic policies are appropriate limiting and narrowing the scope for such illicit outflows remains the task for policy makers in our countries.

From the IMF side, we of course provide a lot of policy advice. And more recently, we’ve also introduced governance and corruption — because that’s what help improve governments and tackle corruption. Should the government be interested, of course, we have advice on how to strengthen public finance management frameworks, how to strengthen accountability institutions that we can offer and work with the government.

Overall, I would say that, you know, over the last couple of years this is an area where we’ve President Buhari’s administration placing quite a bit of emphasis and continue to strengthen this because I think the task facing Nigeria.

FOUDA: Lady in the middle over there please.

QUESTIONER: I just wanted to know your overall assessment of the Gambia knowing that the country is trying to recover after a slow down in 2016 and it also went through a political impasse most of you know in that year so a lot of things have changed including the government. And so, we do know that the government is trying to really re-strategize its policy and the IMF also advised that we to revisit their fiscal policies just so growth is stable and that is sustainable.

And so, we’ve also seen that the government has taken more than half of its revenue to solving debt and we’ve also seen a rising taxation especially in certain revenue generating avenues also on the private sector. So, just wanted to know your overall assessment of the country in the coming years. Thank you.

SELASSIE: Thank you. So, Gambia, of course, has been going through a fairly difficult political transition. It has been a period of quite a bit of uncertainty and, you know, after a very long period where there was very limited transparency in public accounts. We’ve moved to a period where there is a bit more transparency there and we’re happy to be supporting the government’s reform efforts through a staff monitored program.

We just agreed on a second staff monitored program recently with the government and we hope that this will transition into us being able to provide financing going forward. One constraint in our ability to provide financing has indeed been the need to make sure that there is a fiscal path, which strikes a healthy balance between continuing to make resources available for investment and health and education and infrastructure that the country needs much versus avoiding an unsustainable debt situation. I think very encouraging progress on this front in recent and, you know, we hope to help the government continue to strike this healthy balance in the coming weeks.

FOUDA: Let me get the lady in white here please.

QUESTIONER: I want to ask you about two Portuguese speaking countries in Africa. In the first place, Angola, which has an extended fund facility agreed with the IMF. How is it going? Also, Angola had the visit of IMF mission very recently and they were going to continue the works here in Washington.

And the second question is about Guinea-Bissau also overall assessment about this country, which is an underdeveloped country and very poor and we will have legislative elections. What is your overview for the next coming months for Guinea-Bissau?

SELASSIE: So, with respect to Angola, as I mentioned earlier, we’ve an extended front facility since last year, which there are compressive reforms being pursued. Angola is at an inflection point in terms of the economic policy environment. They have been really hit very, very hard by the decline in commodity prices, of course, and have been adjusting to that over the last couple of years.

The first set of adjustments the country has been doing really has been more by way of compressing spending rather than a more systematic way of doing their policy reforms. So the work of the program under the AFF — the reform program that the AFF is supporting, government program, is trying to put a more orderly fiscal adjustment in place also facilitate for their reforms in the monetary and exchange rate area and also a lot of (inaudible) reforms.

We are pleased with the progress that has been made so far and, you know, we are encouraged with the progress that has been made so far and we hope that that will continue in the coming months.

With Guinea-Bissau, as you noted, this country which we have been supporting with the program, its fragile economy faces a lot deeper developmental challenges. We continue to have dialogues with the government including improving the health of the financial sector, which we think is a very important policy priority at the moment and we will continue to work with them in the coming months also.

FOUDA: Yes. Let’s take first row here.

QUESTIONER: The Trump administration is one in that the Chinese investment in Africa while is good for infrastructure is also can turn out to become death trap and a (inaudible) takeover. We have cases in Sri Lanka especially because the loans from China end up in the hands of very corrupt government, unaccountable government. How big a threat is the Chinese investment and expansion in Africa.

And, finally, yesterday the new (inaudible) president the alarming statistic about Africa. He said by 2030 nine out of ten extremely poor people in the world will be Africans, which is bit surprising seeing all the poor in Asia and in the U.S. and in Europe. Is the IMF seeing the same thing? And, finally, in terms of statistics, we see the IMF has 3.5% projection this year and the World Bank has a different statistics. How does it work? Why do you have different statistics? How do you get to it?

SELASSIE: Okay. A lot of questions there. First, on the debt issue, as I flagged earlier, you know, in some countries I think it’s important to know that, you know, with many policy challenges and particularly for the region as diverse as (inaudible) Africa, it is very important to consider them in a country specific context. So, the reason why debt has gone up defers from country to country and the sources of financing also tend to be country specific.

Our advice, of course, always is to make sure that countries are (inaudible) a healthy balance between on the one hand continue to address their development objectives and second, avoiding the sustainability concerns. In some cases, of course, these kind of debt problems can arise from borrowing from bilateral creditors, but in other cases it comes from borrowing from commercial banks. Somebody asked me a question about (inaudible) not so long ago. Right. The issue with debt sustainability had arisen on the context of borrowing from commercial banks that are hidden in that case.

So, the issue of debt transparency is not unique to China, but also to all borrowing that our countries are undertaking and what’s important, again, is making sure that total borrowing levels remain consistent with debt servicing capacity. Failing to do that, of course, is very problematic.

On the outlook for the region in terms of addressing poverty rates, you know, of course this is exactly why we have this dialogue at these meetings. With policymakers, you know, the brunt of our work is to make sure that the region continues to grow as robustly as possible to create the millions of jobs that our economies need to avoid, you know, wore outcomes particularly given the demographic challenges that the region faces.

So, this is exactly what policymakers, institutions like the IMF, World Bank are all engaged in to make sure that we can facilitate help economies grow as robustly as possible to reduce existing poverty and avoid poverty levels deteriorating any further.

So, your last question was on — I’m not sure what discrepancy your talking about frankly. Yeah, I mean, you know, the last numbers I saw from the World Bank for (inaudible) Africa was 3.6. Ours are 3.5. The composition between the two institutions differ slightly. You know, one or two countries more there than here. So those kind of things. Or the timing when projections were made often account for any marginal differences that there are.

FOUDA: Let’s take the question here please.

QUESTIONER: I am going to speak French. Question on CEMAC.

SELASSIE: You know, in my opening remarks, I noted about the impacts that the commodity price decline has had on some of the regions commodity exporters.

Five out of the six CEMAC countries of course are oil producers and they have been hit very, very hard by the decline in oil prices that we saw in 2014 to ’16. We are working with the countries to try and avert, you know, we moved very quickly to help countries avert a crisis. And, you know, we have programs that we are supporting the authorities endeavors with.

As you noted, four out of the six countries we have programs with. That is Cameroon, Gabon, C.A.R. and Chad. And the efforts that countries have been making, these four countries but also the reforms that the bank has been pursuing and as well as really some efforts that Republic of Congo and the (inaudible) of Guinea have done.

What those have done is to stabilize the levels of foreign exchange in the region and strengthen fiscal deficits, narrow fiscal deficits. This still remains quite a lot to do in terms of reforming the business environment in countries to spur growth. And the emphasis of our work and dialogue with authorizes has now shifted a little bit more towards making sure that we have a business environment that is more conducive to private investment.

So that’s where we rare in the dialogue under the programs. If authorities want further engagement with IMF we are of course always ready to listen and see what we can do.

FOUDA: Any questions on this side of the? Let’s start in the back with the lady please.

QUESTIONER: I would like to take just a couple of questions.

Now you talked about creating jobs for the growing population of youth. And we have that scenario in Nigeria where a lot of people are graduating with no jobs waiting for them. So in line with the ERGP of the government, have you seen that impacting and creating jobs? And what is your general assessment of each so far from the annual meetings till now?

Then I would also want to know the position of the IMF in terms of regional conflict as it affects development. We have seen clashes between the farmers, the headers, and it’s not — now not just restricted to Nigeria. It is moving into neighboring countries.

We have also had that some of these people move across border so really what is the impact to economic development in these countries having this peculiar crisis? Thank you.

SELASSIE: Okay. On economic reforms, again, I think it is really important to see to first of all like recognize how deep the shock that the Nigerian economy was hit by when commodity prices declined, you know, from or the oil prices declined from $100 or more that was prevailing before 2014 to where there at right now. That has been a very severe shock and has had a tremendous impact on the economy.

There has been adjustment to that shock of course. In some cases, it is still ongoing but we think that, you know, the focus now has to shift and this is where I think the ERGP was strong in terms of diversifying the economy.

We welcome the efforts the government has been making to improve, you know, to tackle corruption, to improve governance in the country. We very much welcome the emphasis on public investment. What remains we think in terms of priorities going forward, really is trying to make sure that government regenerates more resources that it can use to invest in health, in education, in further infrastructure.

So, tackling the revenue side of the equation is really what is really important. Nigeria has a fairly low level of revenue to GDP ratio. I think moving forward in the coming months and years to address that will be very important.

And I think, you know, that investment in infrastructure, investment in health and education is exactly the kind of investment the government needs to make to facilitate more private sector growth, tackling other constraints on private sector to create the millions of jobs that Nigeria needs.

On conflict, you know, I think it is a very timely question. The regional economic outlook that we just put out, has a chapter really looking at the impact of conflict on the region, on countries, on economic outcomes. So I urge you to look at that.

It’s to, you know, suffice it to say that of course in the region the level of conflict remains much, much lower in sub-Saharan Africa as a whole. The level of conflict remains much lower than it used to be. But we have seen an uptick in violence in the Sahel region in particular but also in the Lake Chad basin countries.

Frankly what is needed of course is addressing directly those, the conflicts and minimizing the spill overs that they’re having on the populations but also it points to the need for our development policies to be much more inclusive, to try and address the poorest parts of our countries, the development challenges that face the poorest parts of our countries.

FOUDA: Let’s take another question here. And we will take one last in the back. Quickly please.

QUESTIONER: Thank you. My question is actually a follow up to the one my brother, Tibad asked concerning the frightening prediction about poverty indication in Africa in the next 10 to 11 years.

So the question is the addition to the question actually is if the African Department of IMF is actually doing something to for instance as for debt (inaudible) for African states in this period and whether there is also reforms in the ways you are create this — being, giving and (inaudible).

For instance (inaudible) did not believe in Africa that when IMF World Bank provides a loan they create employment for their people with which the credit is used to finance whereas living challenges and indebtedness for the people at the end of it. So the Africans are (inaudible) alone to finance — to create employment for developing economies.

What is the African Department of IMF really doing to see that there is a change in this so that monies for African countries can really work for them and add to our value. Thank you.

SELASSIE: So look, the IMF’s contribution to the work of policy makers in the region is not confined just to financing. If anything, you know, by far the most important contribution we make is providing policy advice, yes. To the region and we of course have policy dialogue with all 45 member countries of, you know, sub-Saharan African countries on exactly the points that you made.

How can governments, how can policy makers, how can societies quite frankly, it’s not just governments that are responsible but broader stakeholders including parliaments, private sector, CSO’s, NGO’s. What are the challenges and what is the best way to address them?

The, our advice is country specific and revolve around, you know, for example on effective use of public resources. You know, what is the best way of having a public finance management framework? What is the appropriate level of deficit governments can pursue to strike a healthy balance been on the one hand continuing to address development needs, second avoiding debt.

Public investment management is an area where we do quite a lot of work, you know, how to prioritize, how to select the right type of projects. So I think, you know, the contribution we make in countries like Nigeria is exactly in that area. You know, providing the policy advice because we don’t have a lending program for example. So that’s how we help.

In other countries, still, you know, we come in to support governments with the resources, borrowing. I think the (inaudible) example that the gentleman earlier raised as an example. In this case the countries were hit very hard by the decline in commodity prices. They lost fiscal revenue, they lost external revenue. So we provided financing to help them continue to spend, support investments in health and education.

Again, in these countries also we do quite a lot of work on the public finance issues I noted earlier. But also helping them strengthen the governance and governor’s frameworks, tackling corruption, making sure there is more transparency in public accounts. So this is the contribution that we are making.

FOUDA: Last question. In the back please.

QUESTIONER: Ghana has just completed the financial sector pre-nup. That we are told that is going to assure a solid financial system.

Now the question is how do you think this will impact one on the financial system of the country, two to ensure growth because we are already seeing some job losses in the (inaudible). Thank you.

SELASSIE: Okay. So, you know, a healthy financial sector really is paramount in all our economies, particularly in an economy like Ghana which is a frontier market economy, moving toward emerging market status. Financial sector which is healthy, which is vibrant, which provides financing for private sector. And above all is healthy is really very important.

You know, if you want to think about it the other way, you know, we have seen the kind of damage that banks failing, banks and financial sectors failing can have globally. We just have to look back to the global financial crisis and the turmoil it’s caused in countries such as the United States and many European countries.

So it’s, you know, I cannot stress enough how important having a healthy financial sector is. You know, banks that are robustly capitalized can, you know, are a source of strength for an economy and so that’s been the broad direction in which the financial sector clean up in Ghana has been going in. Where it has entailed some job losses of course, finding ways to minimize those will be important but I think that tends to be very bank specific issues.

For the broader economy at large, I think That the work that the government has been doing is very encouraging and it needs to continue going forward. Thank you.

FOUDA: Thank you so very much, Mr. Aemro Selassie. Thank you guys for coming. We will see you again in October I guess. Thank you.

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