AFRICA: Continent will miss millennium goals - IMF

Thursday, November 16, 2006
Most countries in sub-Saharan Africa are not on track to meet the millennium development goal of eradicating extreme poverty by 2015, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said in its regional economic outlook for Africa, released in Dakar on Tuesday.

The IMF has estimated that Africa needs to accelerate annual GDP growth to seven percent to attain the goal of reducing by half the proportion of people living on less than one dollar a day by 2015.

Africa’s economy as a whole is growing at around 5.5 percent in 2006, although South Africa and the continent’s oil-rich countries are responsible for most of the growth, according to the IMF report.

“The critical thing for the economic poverty goal is growth,” Sanjeev Gupta, assistant director of the Africa Department at the IMF told IRIN. “There is no substitute for higher rates of growth to reduce poverty and achieve all the (millennium development goals) in the long-run.”

“Africa needs more external resources, and at the moment that means more aid. The IMF strongly favours scaling up aid flows along the lines of the Gleneagles commitments, but so far that has not really occurred,” Gupta said.

The Gleneagles commitments were made by G8 members in Scotland in 2005, and included the promise of an extra US $25 billion a year in aid to the African continent before 2010.

IMF officials speaking at a ceremony for the report’s launch also said Africa needs to improve its terms of trade both with industrialised countries and within the continent.

The IMF report notes that countries which have benefited from multilateral debt relief are using the resources released - between 2.5 and 7 percent of GDP - to boost poverty-reducing investments.

It also finds that Botswana, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria and Zambia are attracting a growing amount of investor interest, and that remittances from industrialised countries are increasingly important in balancing current accounts.

Recorded remittances account for almost 40 percent of Lesotho’s GDP, and between 12 and 20 percent of GDP in Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, Senegal and Togo, the IMF said, although the real figure, including unregistered transfers, may be as much as twice as high.

Cameroon, Ethiopia, Senegal, South Africa and Swaziland are the only countries considered “well positioned” by the IMF to meet the income poverty goal. Ghana and Mozambique also have a shot at attaining it “if their recent growth performance is sustained”, the IMF said.

However, these countries account for less than a third of the population of the sub-Saharan region. At least 40 percent of sub-Saharan African countries are either “off-track” or “seriously off-track” on each millennium development goal.

Progress toward the goals in up to a third of sub-Saharan countries “cannot be measured at all” due to weaknesses in their statistical systems, the IMF said.
Author: IRIN
Source: IRIN
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