KEY FINANCE UPDATES
IMF appoints Harvard Professor Gita Gopinath as Chief Economist
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has appointed Gita Gopinath as the Economic Counsellor and Director of the IMF’s Research Department. She will succeed Maurice Obstfeld, who would be retiring at the end of the year. Gopinath currently serves as the John Zwaaanstra Professor of International Studies and Economics at Harvard University.
In announcing the appointment, IMF Managing Director, Christine Lagarde, said: “Gita is one of the world’s outstanding economists, with impeccable academic credentials, a proven track record of intellectual leadership, and exclusive international experience.”
According to the statement by the IMF, Gopinath is the co-editor of the American Economic Review and co-director of the International Finance and Macroeconomics Program at the National Bureau of Economic Research. She, also, co-edited the current Handbook of International Economics with the former IMF Economic Counsellor, Kenneth Rogoff. She has authored about 40 research articles on exchange rates, trade and investment, international financial crises, monetary policy, debt, and emerging market crises.
With her appointment, the IMF joins the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and World Bank in having a woman in the top economic role.
New partnership to drive finance for smallholder farmers in Africa
The International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) and the Global Innovation Lab for Climate Finance (the Lab) has announced a new partnership that will help build climate resilience for smallholder farmers in Central and West Africa by developing and scaling up innovative financial instruments.
The new partnership was announced on the sidelines of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly on September 28. Under the new partnership, IFAD will bring its expertise on agriculture financing to complement the Lab’s membership of private investors, governments, development finance institutions, philanthropies, and financial experts.
Through its Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP), IFAD will be sponsoring the development of two instruments within a new thematic stream for smallholder agriculture financing in the Lab’s 2018-2019 cycle, starting in October.
Climate change, according to the statement, has increased the frequency and magnitude of natural hazards, leading to $1.5 trillion in economic damages from 2003 to 2013, irreversible negative impacts on human and ecosystem health, and threats to local and global food security.
Since its launch in 2014, the Lab – a network of public and private investors that identifies, develops, and launches transformative climate finance instruments – has mobilized over $1.5 billion for renewable energy, energy efficiency, adaptation, and climate-smart agriculture projects in developing countries.
World Bank to finance 17.5 GWh of battery storage in developing countries by 2025
The World Bank has launched a new program, called Accelerating Battery Storage for Development, with a commitment of $1 billion to accelerate investments in battery storage for energy systems in developing and middle-income countries. The World Bank made the announcement at the One Planet Summit in New York on September 26.
The program aims to finance 17.5 gigawatt hours (GWh) of battery storage by 2025 – more than triple the 4-5 GWh currently installed in all developing countries.
In addition to the $1 billion commitment, the World Bank will fundraise another $1 billion in concessional climate funds through the Climate Investment Funds’ Clean Technology Fund. It will also raise an additional $3 billion from public and private funds and investors.
Batteries used in energy systems are expensive, and most projects are concentrated in developed countries. Hence, the program will support largescale demonstration projects for new storage technologies suitable for developing countries’ needs – such as batteries that are long-lasting, resilient to harsh conditions and high temperatures, and that present minimal environmental risks.
The World Bank Group has been working with countries to support the deployment of batteries together with solar and wind power for several years, with projects currently underway in Africa, South Asia, and the Pacific.
British Virgin Island postpones trade mission to Africa
The British Virgin Island Finance, a company set up to market and promote the British Virgin Island (BVI) as a premier offshore financial centre, has postponed its proposed trade mission to Africa until next year.
Earlier in September, BVI Finance had announced a two-week trade mission to three African countries, namely: Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya. The trade mission was set to hold from November 5-16, 2018.
However, according to a statement by BVI Finance, the trade mission is postponed after a further a review of the timeline relating to the European Union’s assessment of international finance centres.
Earlier this year, the BVI – a British overseas territory in the eastern part of the Caribbean Sea – had embarked on Asia Trade Mission, which covered Hong Kong, Singapore, Beijing, Hangzhou and Shanghai. The mission held from June 4-15.
IMF Chief Economist-designate Gita Gopinath