International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
Across Africa, IMF monetary and financial sector experts are helping to develop and strengthen institutions, markets, and capacity to formulate and implement sound monetary and financial policies. Positive impact from this help is reflected in stronger financial systems that support high sustained growth rates.
Hites Ahir, Hendre Garbers, Mattia Coppo, Mr. Giovanni Melina, Mr. Futoshi Narita, Ms. Filiz D Unsal, Vivian Malta, Xin Tang, Daniel Gurara, Luis-Felipe Zanna, Linda G. Venable, Mr. Kangni R Kpodar, and Mr. Chris Papageorgiou
Despite strong economic growth since 2000, many low-income countries (LICs) still face numerous macroeconomic challenges, even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the deceleration in real GDP growth during the 2008 global financial crisis, LICs on average saw 4.5 percent of real GDP growth during 2000 to 2014, making progress in economic convergence toward higher-income countries. However, the commodity price collapse in 2014–15 hit many commodity-exporting LICs and highlighted their vulnerabilities due to the limited extent of economic diversification. Furthermore, LICs are currently facing a crisis like no other—COVID-19, which requires careful policymaking to save lives and livelihoods in LICs, informed by policy debate and thoughtful research tailored to the COVID-19 situation. There are also other challenges beyond COVID-19, such as climate change, high levels of public debt burdens, and persistent structural issues.
Mindaugas Leika, Hector Perez-Saiz, Ms. Olga Ilinichna Stankova, and Torsten Wezel
The paper finds that supervisory stress tests are conducted in more than half of sub-Saharan African countries, particularly in western and southern Africa, and that the number of individual stress tests has grown exponentially since the early 2010s. By contrast, few central banks publish assessments of macro-financial linkages; the focus leans more toward discussing trends and weaknesses within the financial sector than on outside risks that may negatively affect its performance.
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.
Corinne Deléchat, Ms. Ejona Fuli, Mrs. Dafina Glaser, Mr. Gustavo Ramirez, and Rui Xu
This paper studies the role of fiscal policies and institutions in building resilience in sub-Saharan
African countries during 1990-2013, with specific emphasis on a group of twenty-six countries that
were deemed fragile in the 1990s. As the drivers of fragility and resilience are closely intertwined, we
use GMM estimation as well as a probabilistic framework to address endogeneity and reverse
causality. We find that fiscal institutions and fiscal space, namely the capacity to raise tax revenue
and contain current spending, as well as lower military spending and, to some extent, higher social
expenditure, are significantly and fairly robustly associated with building resilience. Similar
conclusions arise from a study of the progression of a group of seven out of the twenty-six sub-
Saharan African countries that managed to build resilience after years of civil unrest and/or violent
conflict. These findings suggest relatively high returns to focusing on building sound fiscal
institutions in fragile states. The international community can help this process through policy advice,
technical assistance, and training on tax administration and budget reforms.
The region is seeing a modest growth uptick, but this is not uniform and the medium-term outlook remains subdued. Growth is projected to rise to 3.4 percent in 2018, from 2.8 percent in 2017, on the back of improved global growth, higher commodity prices, and continued strong public spending. About ¾ of the countries in the region are predicted to experience faster growth. Beyond 2018, growth is expected to plateau below 4 percent, modestly above population growth, reflecting continued sluggishness in the oil-exporting countries and sustained growth in non-resource-intensive countries. A number of countries (Burundi, DRC, South Sudan, and parts of the Sahel) remain locked in internal conflict resulting in record levels of refugees and Internally Displaced Persons, with adverse spillovers to neighboring countries.