This paper assesses and disseminates experiences and lessons from low-income countries (LICs) in Sub-Saharan Africa that were selected by the Africa Department in 2015-16 as pilots for enhanced analysis of macro-financial linkages in Article IV staff reports. The paper focuses on the common characteristics across the pilot countries and highlights the tools used in the analysis, the challenges encountered, and the solutions deployed in overcoming them.
Karim Barhoumi, Ha Vu, Shirin Nikaein Towfighian, and Mr. Rodolfo Maino
There is significant room to improve public investment efficiency in
sub-Saharan Africa. Investment in sub-Saharan African countries is lagging vis-à-vis peers such as emerging and developing Asia as well as Latin America and the Caribbean, and the region’s infrastructure is perceived as being of relatively low quality. Improving the efficiency of sizable investment programs in the region could contribute to more solid economic growth and help achieve desired social priorities and development goals.
Results point to some variability in public investment efficiency within the region. Comparing efficiency scores across country groups suggests that investment efficiency in sub-Saharan African oil exporters tends to be lower than in sub-Saharan African non-resource-intensive countries. Additionally, countries in East African Community (EAC) perform better than those in Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) and West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU).
Stronger institutions could foster more efficient public investment. The regression results in this paper show a positive correlation between public investment efficiency and the quality of institutions, suggesting that devel-oping stronger institutions in sub-Saharan Africa could lead to a significant improvement in investment efficiency. This is particularly relevant for coun-tries with weak institutional quality, where governments may use capital spending as a vehicle for rent-seeking, leading to inefficient spending. Given the current drive for scaling up investment in sub-Saharan Africa, the task of improving institutions quickly should become a priority.
Mr. Mauro Mecagni, Daniela Marchettini, and Mr. Rodolfo Maino
Banking in SSA has undergone very significant changes over the last two decades. Financial liberalization and related reforms, upgrades in institutional and more recently the expansion of cross-border banking activities and the rapid development of Pan-African banking groups are signaling greater financial integration and significant changes in the African banking and financial landscape. Nonetheless, excess liquidity in many countries reflects limited lending opportunities and, despite improvements, asset quality and provisioning remain comparatively low. Dollarization has also been a persistent characteristic in several natural resource-dependent economies. This paper discusses key stylized facts and trends of banking development in SSA, looking at a variety of dimensions such as size, depth, soundness, and efficiency. It also assess the rapid expansion of pan-African banking groups, which have overtaken the role of the European and U.S. banks that had traditionally dominated banking activities in SSA, creating significant cross-border networks and becoming the largest participants in new syndicates and large bilateral loans to finance infrastructure development.
Mr. Mauro Mecagni, Mr. Juan S Corrales, Mr. Jemma Dridi, Mr. Rodrigo Garcia-Verdu, Patrick A. Imam, Mr. Justin Matz, Ms. Carla Macario, Mr. Rodolfo Maino, Mr. Yibin Mu, Ashwin Moheeput, Mr. Futoshi Narita, Mr. Marco Pani, Mr. Manuel Rosales Torres, Mr. Sebastian Weber, and Mr. Etienne B Yehoue
Dollarization—the use of foreign currencies as a medium of exchange, store of value, or unit of account—is a notable feature of financial development under macroeconomically fragile conditions. It has emerged as a key factor explaining vulnerabilities and currency crises, which have long been observed in Latin America, parts of Asia, and Eastern Europe. Dollarization is also present, prominently, in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) where it remains significant and persistent at over 30 percent rates for both bank loans and deposits—although it has not increased significantly since 2001. However, progress in reducing dollarization has lagged behind other regions and, in this regard, it is legitimate to ask whether this phenomenon is an important concern in SSA. This study fills a gap in the literature by analyzing these issues with specific reference to the SSA region on the basis of the evidence for the past decade.
Although the impact of the global crisis has been severe, real per capita GDP growth stayed positive in two-thirds of low-income countries (LICs), unlike in previous global downturns, and in contrast to richer countries. Emerging from the Global Crisis explores how LICS have coped with the global economic crisis. It reviews the impact of the crisis on LICs, domestic policy responses to the crisis, and the precrisis conditions of select countries. The prospects and challenges that LICs face are also considered. Sections of the paper look at growth prospects, policy recommendations, the general macroeconomic outlook, as well as the rebuilding of fiscal buffers. The authors also "stress-test" LICs' exposure to further volatility by using a hypothetical "downside" recovery scenario.
Mr. Paolo Dudine, Sibabrata Das, Ms. Pritha Mitra, Yongzheng Yang, Eteri Kvintradze, and Miss Nkunde Mwase
Low-income countries were hit especially hard by sharp increases in world food and fuel prices in 2007-08 and the global financial crisis that followed. In response, the International Monetary Fund scaled up its financial assistance to low-income countries and revamped its concessional lending facilities to make them more flexible in meeting the diverse needs of these countries. Creating Policy Space in Low-Income Countries during the Recent Crises assesses empirically the outcome of the IMF response, and provides insight into how IMF-supported programs in low-income countries have been adapted to the changing economic circumstances in these countries. The authors report that these programs have provided expanded policy space in the face of the global price shocks and financial crisis.
This forthcoming title in the Departmental Paper Series describes the special challenges facing low-income countries as economic growth contracts by an estimated 1.1 percent globally. Coping with the Crisis: Challenges Facing Low-Income Countries provides an assessment of the implications of the financial crisis for low-income countries, evaluates the short-term macroeconomic outlook for these countries, and discusses the policy challenges they face. Chapters cover the outlook for global economic growth and commodity prices, an overview of how low-income countries have been affected, fiscal policy, monetary and exchange rate policy responses, potential external financing needs and how the international community, including the IMF, can help countries meet them. The challenges ahead for low-income countries are delineated, including debt vulnerabilities and the need for countries to develop well-regulated local capital markets and banking systems, as well as enhanced public sector efficiency.