IMF debate future of monetary integration in Sub-Saharan Africa
The Africa Training Institute (ATI), the IMF, and the Banque de France jointly organized a highlevel seminar at the ATI in Mauritius. Over 30 high-level policymakers from across sub-Saharan Africa and academics from Africa, America, and Europe gathered to discuss the future of currency areas, with a focus on conditions under which they remain an appropriate mechanism for improving welfare in their member countries.
In their opening remarks, IMF Deputy Managing Director Carla Grasso and Institute for Capacity Development Director Sharmini Coorey underlined the timeliness of this seminar. Monetary integration is arguably one of the most pressing macroeconomic policy questions of our times, with urgent questions regarding governance and design of the Euro area on the one hand, and enthusiasm for further monetary integration in Africa on the other.
Participants' views converged on the prerequisites for monetary integration such as more trade and economic integration. The exposure of potential monetary union members to large asym- metric shocks and the risks associated with large current account imbalances were recognized as sources of concern. Some participants noted that while monetary unions-such as the CFA zonehave contributed to price stability, there are more gains to be achieved on growth and economic development from trade integration, than perhaps from monetary integration. They discussed whether Africa should focus more on those integration objectives. A panel that focused on the need to develop capacity before starting regional integration agreed on the need for better infrastructure development in all sectors-both physical and IT-as well as for strengthened human resources as prerequisites for reaping the benefits of any form of regional integration.
In the second ATI Presidential Lecture, Dr. Carlos Lopes, Executive Secretary, UN Economic Commission for Africa, made a strong appeal to African leaders to deliver on their agreed upon strategy of industrialization in Africa as a prerequisite for a successful regional integration. He noted the priorities of investing in infrastructure and the development of both human resources and institutions.