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International Monetary Fund
This paper is the fifth in a series that examines macroeconomic developments and prospects in low-income developing countries (LIDCs). LIDCs are a group of 59 IMF member countries primarily defined by income per capita below a threshold level. LIDCs contain one fifth of the world’s population—1.5 billion people—but account for only 4 percent of global output. The first chapter of the paper discusses recent macroeconomic developments and trends across LIDCs and, using growth decompositions, explores the key drivers of growth performance in LIDCs. A second chapter examines the challenges faced by LIDCs in implementing a value-added tax system, generally seen as a key component of a strong national tax system. The third chapter discusses how financial safety nets can be appropriately tailored to the specific needs of LIDCs, recognizing that an effective safety net is important for ensuring financial stability and underpinning public confidence in the financial system, thereby promoting financial intermediation.
Francisco Arizala, Mr. Matthieu Bellon, Ms. Margaux MacDonald, Mr. Montfort Mlachila, and Mustafa Yenice
After close to two decades of strong economic activity, overall growth in sub-Saharan Africa decelerated markedly in 2015–16 as the largest economies experienced negative or flat growth. Regional growth started recovering in 2017, but the question remains of how trends in the economies stuck in low gear will spill over to the countries that have maintained robust growth. This note illuminates the discussion by identifying growth spillover channels. The focus is on trade, banking, financial, remittance, investment, fiscal, and security channels, which are the most prominent and most likely to transmit growth trends across borders. In addition to bringing together findings from a broad array of existing research, the note identifies countries that are the most likely sources of regional spillovers and those that are most likely to be impacted, and provides estimates for the size of these channels. It finds that intraregional trade and remittance flows are an important channel for growth spillovers, while banking channels are less important but will remain a risk going forward. Finally, the note documents other important spillover channels through financial markets contagion, revenue-sharing arrangements in fiscal unions, commodity-pricing policies, corporate investment, and forced migration. The main takeaway is that the level of interdependence among sub-Saharan countries is higher than is generally assumed. Consequently, there is a need for additional emphasis on regional surveillance and spillover analysis, along with traditional bilateral surveillance.
International Monetary Fund. African Dept.

Abstract

Growth in sub-Saharan Africa has recovered relative to 2016, but the momentum is weak and per capita incomes are expected to barely increase. Further, vulnerabilities have risen in many countries, adding to the urgency of implementing the fiscal consolidations planned in most countries and with stepped up efforts to strengthen growth.

International Monetary Fund. African Dept.

Abstract

Growth in sub-Saharan Africa has recovered relative to 2016, but the momentum is weak and per capita incomes are expected to barely increase. Further, vulnerabilities have risen in many countries, adding to the urgency of implementing the fiscal consolidations planned in most countries and with stepped up efforts to strengthen growth.

Mr. Jesus R Gonzalez-Garcia, Mr. Ermal Hitaj, Mr. Montfort Mlachila, Arina Viseth, and Mustafa Yenice
Amid rapid population growth, migration in sub-Saharan Africa has been increasing briskly over the last 20 years. Up to the 1990s, the stock of migrants—citizens of one country living in another country—was dominated by intraregional migration, but over the last 15 years, migration outside the region has picked up sharply. In the coming decades, sub-Saharan African migration will be shaped by an ongoing demographic transition involving an enlargement of the working-age population, and migration outside the region, in particular to advanced economies, is set to continue expanding. This note explores the main drivers of sub-Saharan African migration, focusing on migration outside the region, as this has greater global spillovers. It finds that the economic impact of migration for the region occurs mainly through two channels. First, the migration of young and educated workers—brain drain—takes a toll as human capital is already scarce in the region, although some recent studies suggest that migration may have also a positive effect—brain gain. Second, remittances represent an important source of foreign exchange and income in a number of sub-Saharan African countries, contribute to the alleviation of poverty, and help smooth business cycles.
Mr. Montfort Mlachila, Ahmat Jidoud, Ms. Monique Newiak, Bozena Radzewicz-Bak, and Ms. Misa Takebe
This paper discusses how sub-Saharan Africa’s financial sector developed in the past few decades, compared with other regions. Sub-Saharan African countries have made substantial progress in financial development over the past decade, but there is still considerable scope for further development, especially compared with other regions. Indeed, until a decade or so ago, the level of financial development in a large number of sub-Saharan African countries had actually regressed relative to the early 1980s. With the exception of the region’s middle-income countries, both financial market depth and institutional development are lower than in other developing regions. The region has led the world in innovative financial services based on mobile telephony, but there remains scope to increase financial inclusion further. The development of mobile telephone-based systems has helped to incorporate a large share of the population into the financial system, especially in East Africa. Pan-African banks have been a driver for homegrown financial development, but they also bring a number of challenges.
International Monetary Fund. African Dept.
This Selected Issues paper on West African Economic and Monetary Union presents external stability assessment report. The current account deficit declined in 2014. Although gross international reserve coverage has increased slightly, part of the current account deficit has been financed by a decline in commercial banks’ net foreign assets. Contingent on the implementation of government’s consolidation plans, and helped by a favorable oil price outlook, the current account deficit would further gradually decline and be matched by enough financial inflows in the medium term. According to various metrics, the real exchange rate appears to be broadly aligned with fundamentals. International reserve coverage should increase to provide stronger buffers against immediate short-term risks. Structural competitiveness and investment efficiency improvements will be essential to ensure that the planned large investment programs translate into growth and export gains as well as increased private inflows into the region.