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Economic policy in Africa in light of the global crisis send your questions

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On Thursday, April 23, 2009, we are holding a seminar on “Economic policy in Africa in light of the global crisis.” The speakers include Emmanuel Tumasiime-Mutabile, the Governor of the Central Bank of Uganda; Lamine Zeine, Minister of Finance of Niger; and Ali Mansoor, Secretary of Finance of Mauritius. I encourage you to send in your questions to this group by 11 a.m. (Washington time) on Thursday, April 23rd. We will read out at least five of the questions received from the blog during the seminar, and report back (on the blog) the answers and comments

The motivation for the seminar is as follows:

The world economy is experiencing the deepest economic crisis since the Great Depression. Stimulus plans in developed countries amount to at least $3 trillion and more is expected to come. Monetary policies have never been so loose. Tax breaks and increasing spending will raise public debts to record levels. Unorthodox policies are being adopted to address the financial and housing crises. All this is turning upside down what was until very recently understood as "sound macroeconomic management." African countries, which had been experiencing unprecedented economic growth since the mid-1990s, are increasingly feeling the pain of the crisis. Previous crises in Africa were blamed on poor macroeconomic policies and management.  This time, however, the story is very different, not only because the crisis started and is spreading from the developed countries, but also because macroeconomic management in Africa has improved significantly.

The major challenge facing African countries and their development partners is designing the policy response to the crisis. What are appropriate policies for low-income African countries during a systemic crisis? Should African countries pursue Washington-Consensus-type policies or adopt demand-boosting policies and fiscal stimulus? With a worldwide recession, will exchange rate devaluations and other export-led policies work?  In view of these and other challenges, there is a need to be bold and think out-of-the box. The seminar is intended to do just that.


Shanta Devarajan

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

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