Who is IMF managing director and what has she done to help African economies battle COVID-19 pandemic?

Kristalina Georgieva has been Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund since October 2019, just before the start of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. Under her leadership, the IMF has dispersed many billions of dollars to the world and to Africa in response to the economic crises resulting from the pandemic.

Since the start of the pandemic, the IMF has approved fast-track loans of over US$16 billion to African nations. This is exponentially greater than the IMF’s typical lending amount would be during a normal year.

Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva joins Chrystia Freeland, Minister for Finance, Marc Benioff, Chair and CEO of Salesforce, Larry Fink, Chair and CEO of BlackRock, Brian Moynihan, Bank of America in a discussion on the topic of Implementing Stakeholder Capitalism. The panel discussion was moderated by Gillian Tett, Editor and Chair of Editorial Board, Financial Times. IMF Photo/Kim Haughton 26 January 2021 Washington, DC, United States of America 
Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva joins Chrystia Freeland, Minister for Finance, Marc Benioff, Chair and CEO of Salesforce, Larry Fink, Chair and CEO of BlackRock, Brian Moynihan, Bank of America in a discussion on the topic of Implementing Stakeholder Capitalism. The panel discussion was moderated by Gillian Tett, Editor and Chair of Editorial Board, Financial Times. IMF Photo/Kim Haughton 26 January 2021 Washington, DC, United States of America

Abebe Aemro Selassie, director of the Africa Department of the IMF, said to The Africa Report in January, “This has been a year where Africa was tested, like never before, and in terms of institutional capacity, its ability to deal with this pandemic.”

In the same interview, Abebe said “This is not your grandfather’s IMF” and that it “has been put on steroids by Kristalina Georgieva” who has taken a proactive approach since becoming managing director.

Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva participates in a Bloomberg Green interview. IMF Photo/Kim Haughton 22 January 2021 Washington, DC, United States of America 
Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva participates in a Bloomberg Green interview. IMF Photo/Kim Haughton 22 January 2021 Washington, DC, United States of America

Georgieva is a Bulgarian economist who previously served as Chief Executive of the World Bank, Vice President for Budget and Human Resources at the European Union, and is listed in Time Magazine’s top 100 most influential people of 2020.

According to a January 8th IMF press release, “The International Monetary Fund has maintained its lending capacity at around US$1 trillion for the coming years,” indicating that it will continue to provide substantial financial support to countries in crisis resulting from the pandemic.

Georgieva met with African ministers in charge of finance and representatives from the Economic Commision for Africa on February 5th.

During this meeting, she noted that to recover from the COVID-19 crisis and build toward a better future, “bold and immediate action for response, recovery, and reset of African economies” is needed.

Managing Director of the IMF Kristalina Georgieva is interviewed by Christiane Amanpour for CNN at the IMF headquarters in Washington on January 26, 2021. IMF Photo/ Joshua Roberts 26 January 2021 Washington, DC, United States of America 
Managing Director of the IMF Kristalina Georgieva is interviewed by Christiane Amanpour for CNN at the IMF headquarters in Washington on January 26, 2021. IMF Photo/ Joshua Roberts 26 January 2021 Washington, DC, United States of America

She went on to address the concerns of African leaders and acknowledge the financial struggles that they face regarding widespread vaccine distribution, saying that “liquidity and financing response is the bridge to vaccines and recovery.”

Georgieva’s term as managing director runs through the year 2024 and she has indicated that the IMF will continue to act dynamically in order to combat the financial distress that the COVID-19 pandemic has put on Africa and the rest of the world.

Noah Pitcher is a global politics correspondent for Today News Africa covering the U.S. government, United Nations, African Union, and other actors involved in international developments, political controversies, and humanitarian issues.

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