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Economic policy in Africa in light of the crisis watch the video

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ImageThe seminar mentioned here went off very well. You can watch the video here. The main messages were:

(i) Economic policy should strive for flexibility, as the future is uncertain. Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutabile said this was why he had allowed the Ugandan shilling to depreciate, although the deputy governor of the central bank of Sudan questioned whether an exchange rate depreciation would lead to inflation, and there was an interesting exchange on whether the alternative, holding the exchange rate fixed during a difficult period, wouldn’t be even worse.

(ii) Ishac Diwan suggested that we should design policy to take advantage of the downturn (for instance, the agriculture and manufacturing sectors, which are normally lagging in primary-exporting countries, could receive a boost now); while Ali Mansoor said we should prepare for the rebound in the global economy by, for example, improving infrastructure to be able to export more primary commodities when prices are high. Given that the world is likely to face even more volatility in the future, this two-part advice is sound.

(iii) Consolate Rusagara and Lamine Zeine both made a strong case for continuing to work on the basics during the crisis—improved financial regulation, including bank supervision and human development.

My overall impression was that African policymakers are generally convinced that they should continue with the reforms that they had embarked on before the crisis, and that were delivering results, because these same reforms make even more sense during a crisis. While we should innovate and look for new ways of implementing reforms, the main thrust of market-based economic reforms remains robust. I encourage you to view the video and tell me whether you have the same impression.


Shanta Devarajan

Teaching Professor of the Practice Chair, International Development Concentration, Georgetown University

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