The International Monetary Fund’s managing director Christine Lagarde will visit Nigeria and Cameroon during January 4-9 “to underline the IMF’s strong relationship with its African member countries”, the fund said in a statement. The visit comes at a time when West Africa’s oil producing nations suffer heavy economic losses from the prolonged drop in global oil prices.
In Nigeria - Africa’s largest economy and biggest oil producer - Lagarde will meet with President Muhammadu Buhari and other prominent figures.
“I look forward to productive meetings with President Buhari and his colleagues as they address important economic challenges, most importantly the impact of low oil prices,” Lagarde said in the statement. “Nigeria is working hard to improve its business environment, promote opportunities for growth in the private sector, and strengthen social cohesion, all areas where the government has an important role to play.”
Last month, Buhari presented his government’s first budget proposal, saying its main goal is to stimulate the economy, make it more competitive by more than tripling capital expenditure, focused on infrastructural development, diversify it away from being too dependent on oil production, and deliver inclusive growth by creating a significant number of jobs. The budget envisages foreign borrowing of NGN900bn in 2016 to help finance planned capital expenditure of nearly NGN2bn. It targets also higher revenues from the non-oil sector as well as cost cuts.
Economist Rafiq Raji, head of at Macroafricaintel Investment, commented in his Twitter account that Buhari clearly could use some good advice from the IMF.
In Cameroon, the largest and most diversified economy in the six-member Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC), Lagarde will meet President Paul Biya, among others, as well as the CEMAC countries’ finance ministers.
“The country and the entire CEMAC region are confronted with the twin shocks of the oil-price slump and a surge in disruptions related to security. Reinforcing regional integration and implementing ambitious reform agendas in CEMAC countries will be key to secure macroeconomic stability and restore strong and inclusive growth in the region,” Lagarde said.
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