IMF and World Bank return to Africa for annual meeting amid economic challenges

The annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank is currently taking place in Marrakesh, Morocco, marking their first return to Africa since 1973. The event is focusing on global economic challenges that are particularly impacting developing nations and emerging markets.

The last time these meetings were held in Africa was in Kenya, 50 years ago. This year’s gathering has drawn a high-profile Egyptian delegation, including Central Bank Governor and IMF governor Hassan Abdalla and Finance Minister Mohamed Maait. They are participating following an agreement on a $3 billion Extended Fund Facility (EFF) program with the IMF through 2025/2026. Yet, only a $347 million tranche has been secured so far, and two crucial loan reviews are still pending. Minister of International Cooperation and Egypt’s Governor to the World Bank, Rania al-Mashat, is also present to engage in loan agreement discussions during these significant Marrakesh meetings.

Despite two COVID-19-related postponements and threats from an earthquake, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva confirmed that Marrakesh would host the meeting. Africa currently faces numerous challenges including conflicts, military coups, poverty, and natural disasters. To enhance Africa’s influence, these institutions plan to allocate a third executive board seat to the continent. This move has been met with resistance from main contributors who are wary of increased capital requirements and empowering emerging economies like China and India.

The World Bank intends to boost lending by $50 billion over the next decade, with President Ajay Banga pushing for a capacity increase of up to $125 billion through contributions from advanced economies. They may also reform their quota systems.

However, not everyone is supportive of these initiatives. Oxfam and other activists plan a march in Marrakesh against these institutions’ austerity-driven solutions, which they argue exacerbate wealth disparity in developing nations and force 57% of the world’s poorest countries into a “starvation diet” of $229 billion spending cuts over five years. Amitabh Behar, Oxfam International’s executive director, criticizes the IMF for this “failed message”, advocating for debt cancellation and taxes on the rich, while also demanding action against climate change.


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