Raila calls for reforms in IMF

March 18, 2009

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 18 – African leaders have called for introduction of reforms in the running of the International Monetary Fund to give the region more say.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who returned to the country on Wednesday after a one day pre G-20 conference in London, said the African leaders also agreed to support “the Zoellick Initiative.”

This refers to an initaive by the President of the World Bank Robert Zoellick which demands that 0.7 percent of all bailout plans by developed countries be channeled to Africa.

Mr Odinga said the position of the African leaders who attended the talks was that the Continent was hurting from a crisis it had no role in creating.

"The impact of the crisis is being seen in declining demand for commodities from across Africa including once highly demanded tea and horticultural products," Mr Odinga said.

He said it was noted at the pre G-20 that overall prices of African commodities are falling due to low demand.

"Across Africa tourism arrivals are falling and so are revenue collections in various countries," the prime minister stated.

African leaders reported at the talks that remittances from abroad are down and so is Foreign Direct Investment.

"A lot of multinational companies were also reported to be canceling projects they had committed to undertake in Africa," the PM said.

Countries emerging from conflict, like Liberia, reported that they were not able to sustain the recovery process they had started, making them vulnerable.

“The feeling was that the West has a responsibility to assist Africa because Africa has nothing to do with this crisis but is a mere victim of a problem caused by the West,” the PM said.

The PM said African leaders at the conference also agreed that any new assistance to Africa be additional to prior commitments.

The purpose of the pre G-20 conference, the PM said, was to find a channel through which African concerns can reach the table of the G-20 in April.

“The tendency has been to ignore Africa as if we are not part of the global economy. The fact is that Africa is affected like the rest.  Africa may not feature very prominently at the G-20 conference but it will form part of the agenda for discussion. It is a good initiative,” the PM said.

“It was the first or the second time Africa was being consulted,” he added.

Other African leaders at the conference were Meles Zenawi, Jakaya Kikwete, Hellen Johnson – Sirleaf and Seretse Ian Khama of Botswana.

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