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IMF ANNUAL MEETINGS – Is the IMF good for Africa

WASHINGTON DC , 18th September 2011

The IMF annual meetings kick off this week.

It’s bound to be an exciting time to see how the IMF is responding to global matters, but most importantly for me, how the IMF is responding to the cyclical challenges of poverty, unemployment, rising commodity prices and a weakening currency for many Africans states.

In Kenya, there are different schools of thought regarding the IMF’s precense and actions in the country.

On one side we have the sceptics:

After Kenya’s ‘Golden years’ that’s the first ten years after Kenya’s independence, when the growth was impressive, education enrollement doubled, came the ‘lost decade’ then a number of Kenyans developed hardlines over what they refer to as the worst social experiments. This happened when the IMF and the world bank proposed the structural Adjustment programmes (SAP’S), which gave priority TO spending areas that critics say locked out key social developement sectors such as education and health.

As a result, literacy fell as the government reduced government spending in schools and other social programmes. A paper written about the SAP’s says- These structural adjustment programmes have had numerous effects on the economy, such as inflationary pressures, the marginalization of the poor in the distribution of educational and health benefits and a reduction in employment (Ikiara 1990, Mwega and Ndulu 1994, World Bank-UNOP1993,Swamy 1994

The SAP programme was abolished after strong views that the results of the structural adjustment programme was not a success and that it could have been a major cause for poverty on the African continent. In 1999, the IMF replaced it with PRGP- Poverty reduction growth facilty paper, as the new pre-condition for loan and debt relief.

So have this worked for Africa- what are they anyway?

These are some of the key aspects I intend to focus on as the conference kicks off.

what are your thoughts though? Is the IMF good for Africa?