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Press Release: IMF Opens Fifth Regional Technical Assistance Center in Africa

Press Release No. 14/122 March 24, 2014

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) today officially opened its fifth Africa regional technical assistance center (AFRITAC) in Ghana, offering capacity building services to six countries across Western Africa.

This fulfils the IMF’s commitment to extend the AFRITAC network to serve all sub-Saharan African countries—a commitment made in 2002 with the IMF Capacity Building Initiative for Africa. The initiative seeks to strengthen the capacity of African governments and institutions to design and implement sound macroeconomic policies consistent with their poverty-reducing strategies.

“This is an important day for capacity building in Africa,” the IMF’s Africa Department Director Antoinette Sayeh told donors, delegates, and staff at the opening ceremony in Accra. “The IMF launched this initiative with a vision: give access to all countries in sub-Saharan Africa to an IMF regional technical assistance center”, she added, noting that this vision was a response to African heads of state, who realized the continent needed centers of capacity-building excellence on the ground in the face of mounting challenges. “Today, this vision is implemented,” she said.

The new center, located in Accra, became operational on January 13, 2014. It serves Ghana, Cabo Verde, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and The Gambia. It complements four existing AFRITACs: AFRITAC East opened in 2002 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; AFRITAC West 1 opened in 2003 in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire; AFRITAC Central, opened in 2007 in Libreville, Gabon; and AFRITAC South opened in 2011 in Port-Louis, Mauritius. The five centers cover all sub-Saharan African countries.

Like its sister offices, AFRITAC West 2 will provide capacity-building assistance through a team of international resident experts, supplemented by short-term specialists, who will deliver assistance in the IMF’s core areas of expertise. Those areas include financial sector supervision, monetary operations and payment systems oversight, tax and customs administration, public financial management, and macroeconomic statistics. The center is led by a coordinator and is guided by a steering committee whose members represent the beneficiary countries, donors and the IMF.

Ms. Sayeh recognized the contributions to AFRITAC West 2 from Ghana, the host country; the donors, including Australia, Canada, China, the European Union, Switzerland, the African Development Bank and the European Investment Bank; and the IMF. She noted, however, that member countries other than Ghana were also expected to financially contribute to the center and was hopeful that their contributions would be forthcoming as they learn more about the benefits of the center. “Indeed,” Ms. Sayeh emphasized, “capacity-building assistance was critical for African countries to develop the strong institutions needed for implementing the macroeconomic policies conducive to sustained development.”