When it comes to Africa, Ms Kristalina Georgieva, the new managing director of the International Monetary Fund whose mandate started on October 1, 2019, knows one or two things, and her background and experience can help her guide a continent in need of more structural reforms and desperate for infrastructures.
As the first managing director of the IMF from a developing country, she’s from Bulgaria, Georgieva believes her personal experience may have prepared her for the job.
“It is an advantage to have lived through IMF program on the receiving side. My own country, Bulgaria, in the mid-1990s, went through a dramatic crisis. Hyperinflation wiped out my mother’s savings in a week. I also saw how adopting good policies can build a foundation for growth, employment, and improvement in living standards,” she said at her opening press conference at the IMF Annual Meetings in Washington D.C. on Thursday.
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“My country is now a proud member of the European Union, four times higher income per capita than in these days”.
Having had the benefit of working in Africa extensively, Georgieva said Africa has great potentials although with some grey areas to tackle.
“I have high hopes for the continent, and I have great worries for some of the countries in the continent”.
She said the Continental Free Trade Agreement is a very major step forward for the continent. However, to be implemented, it would require countries “to think not only within their national boundaries but about how they can improve connectivity so that goods and people can travel across Africa much more freely than they do today”.
“What we believe, in the Fund, we can do is to help countries in Africa to adopt policies that are boosting growth, reducing corruption, where it exists, and directing fiscal resources towards investment in what is the most critical for Africa: the people of Africa, education, in particular, and the infrastructure, the connectivity of Africa. We have seen enlightened leadership in Africa that is bringing the continent up and forward,” she added.
She congratulated the Prime Minister Abiy of Ethiopia for winning the Nobel Peace Prize, adding that it was the kind of leadership needed to move Africa forward.
“I do not know whether there is anybody from Ethiopia in the room, but I want to wholeheartedly congratulate Prime Minister Abiy, the people of Ethiopia, and the whole continent of Africa for the Nobel Prize that he just recently received.
“This leadership, with our humble assistance, can do so much more for Africa to be a continent of opportunity, not of crisis”.