The Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Ms Christine Lagarde, will today discuss with President Goodluck Jonathan ‘the comprehensive agenda’ that the government is formulating to tackle its economic challenges, dependence on oil and the need to accelerate job creation.
Also likely to be discussed, is the planned oil subsidy removal that cost Nigeria about N1.3trillion this year.
Another topical issue that will be in the front burner is the deregulation of the downstream sector of the oil industry which will allow new investments and development of the Nigerian economy.
In Lagos this evening, Lagarde will be hosted to a dinner at Eko Hotel by Women in Business (WIMBIZ) dinner at Eko Hotel.
In her Oped entitled: It’s time to showcase a confident continent, she said the IMF is ready to support African countries’ needs in the core areas of its expertise – policy advice, technical assistance (including through four regional centres on the continent), and lending programs tailored to individual needs (and carrying zero interest rates through 2012).
Noting that the overall outlook for Africa is bright, she said there is still a lot of work to do.
Africa, she said, is on the move, while several other regions of the world have to address slowdown and uncertainty. “Many countries in Africa have been facing a contrasting challenge: to respond to the growing demand for their bountiful resources and manage rising investment in much-needed infrastructure investment. At the same time, growing economic uncertainty in the world is raising concerns across the continent, where vulnerability to global shocks remains high,” she noted.
Given these developments, she said her first visit to Africa as head of the Fund could hardly be better timed.
Lagarde, however, said that Africa’s natural resource wealth is attracting rising foreign investment to help develop and extract those resources. “Domestic and foreign investment is increasingly addressing the large infrastructure gaps that many countries still face. And spending in the social sectors, while still insufficient in many countries, has been rising steadily – reflected in better health and education outcomes,”she said.
Besides, she noted that in Sub-Saharan Africa, growth has averaged five to six percent a year over the past decade. “That is good— but not good enough. In particular, the management of natural resource wealth poses both economic and governance challenges that will need to be addressed to ensure sustained and inclusive growth, and decisive progress in poverty reduction.
“It will be important to ensure that the benefits of growth are shared and that it fosters job creation. It will also be important to promote the development of financial sectors, which remain shallow in many African countries. Indeed, innovative solutions to foster financial sector development could be a spur to much needed growth, not least by strengthening financial ties between Africa and its partners, the IMF boss stressed.
She is billed to visit Niger, and South Africa. South Africa is closely integrated with global capital markets and global economic uncertainty has a particularly direct impact on the South African economy, including its labour market.
First-hand experience of key issues in each of these countries, she said, would help her understand where and how the IMF can best offer its assistance to Africa.
IMF chief, Jonathan discuss Nigeria’s economy today