IMF head holds talks in Nigeria on first Africa visit

December 19, 2011
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Christine Lagarde/ File
ABUJA, Dec 19 – IMF chief Christine Lagarde met Nigeria’s finance minister Monday on her first visit to Africa as head of the fund, with the trip to focus partly on potential fallout from the European debt crisis.

Lagarde entered talks with Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a respected former World Bank managing director, and other Nigerian economic officials early in the day and was to later meet with President Goodluck Jonathan.

“The IMF MD is here,” a finance ministry official said of the International Monetary Fund managing director. “She is already meeting with the economic management team.”

She is expected in the economic capital Lagos on Tuesday for a forum on Africa’s future before moving on to the neighbouring nation of Niger.

Nigeria is Africa’s most populous nation and the continent’s largest oil producer, but it has long been held back by corruption and mismanagement.

It is seeking to enact reforms, including a deeply controversial measure that would lead to an increase in petrol prices, which would allow the country to invest more in its badly neglected infrastructure.

Lagarde’s trip is expected to focus on issues such as addressing youth unemployment in Africa, the world’s fastest-growing continent, as well as potential fallout from the European debt crisis.

Many African nations rely heavily upon European investment and trade.

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