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African ministers demand greater share in WB, IMF affairs

African finance ministers, due for a meeting Wedn esday, have scheduled discussions on enhancing Africa’s participation and voice i n the two Bretton Woods institutions, the World Bank (WB) and the International M onetary Fund (IMF).

African finance and economic affairs experts have been meeting in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, since Sunday to make a clear agenda of the specific demand s that the finance and economy ministers would be making to the two institutions.

“The experts are writing their report and it would be made public as soon as the ministers have taken a position on the issue. The ministers’ position would be m ore accurate,” a spokesman for African Union’s Commissioner for Economic Affairs told PANA.

At the start of their meeting, originally planned to discuss the formation of a pan-African Stock Exchange, the experts said the participation of African minist e rs in the two institutions was critical to continental development, especially a t this time.

The experts foresee the global financial turmoil as particularly grim for Africa , expressing fears that if the adverse effects of the credit crunch in the west begin to bite the continent, institutions such as the African Union could be sev e rely affected.

The World Bank has been promising what it terms as “human rescue package” to ens ure that the current crash in the global financial markets does not severely aff e ct poor states.

The bank said late November that it was ready to tripple its lending to poor cou ntries from the current US$ 13.5 billion it lent in 2007 to US$ 35 billion in 20 0 8.

The bank is also promising a raft of measures, including setting up an infrastru cture facility, worth US$ 300 million and with a pledge to raise US$ 10 billion f rom foreign sources through its private sector arm, the International Finance Co r poration (IFC).

African leaders, due to meet here earlier February, will discuss infrastructure enhancement in the continent and discussions on the sources of funding for the c o ntinent’s development, would be among the priority areas.

After falling victim to the much-maligned structural adjustment policies, which forced most African states to reduce on state-funded initiatives targeting agric u lture, rural development and other issues, the Bretten Woods institutions are mo r e cautious on their demands for economic reforms and are being forced to tread m o re carefully on threats.


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