IMF urges policy caution for vulnerable Africa

African countries have to walk the tightrope as they contemplate economic reform at a time of worsening hunger and climate change, the International Monetary Fund said on Thursday.

In a new report, the IMF said African governments face an “extremely challenging” environment in macro-economic policy.

“Addressing the lack of resilience to climate change (and) critically underlying chronic food insecurity… will require careful policy prioritization against a backdrop of financing and capacity constraints,” it said.

At least 123 million people, or 12 percent of sub-Saharan Africa’s population, are projected to be acutely food insecure, it said.

The impact on economies from the Covid-19 pandemic has combined with a surge in grain prices fuelled by the Ukraine War, it said.

At the same time, East Africa is suffering from one of the worst droughts in recent history.

Despite these problems, some liberalising reforms in trade, regulations and markets are feasible, the IMF said.

“Trade liberalization and import diversification could help stabilize regional food supply and prices,” the fund suggested.

It pointed to a ban that Zambia imposed on exports of its corn in 2020. If some of the harvest had been available, it could have helped with southern Africa’s food shortfall.

The IMF renewed a pledge to back African countries needing technical assistance and financial support.


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