African countries are fed up with being marginalised in global institutions | 19 June 2023
ioi_ab's bookmarks 2023-06-20
"There will be no shortage of bigwigs in Paris on June 22nd at a development finance pow-wow hosted by Emmanuel Macron, France’s president, to discuss pressing global issues including World Bank reform, climate finance and debt distress. Among those attending the Summit for a New Global Financial Pact will be Li Qiang, the Chinese premier, Janet Yellen, America’s treasury secretary, and no fewer than 16 African presidents.
Africa’s large presence reflects a fear that the continent is being short-changed as priorities shift towards helping Ukraine and dealing with climate change. That is feeding a deeper anger—that the continent has too little say in global institutions such as the World Bank, imf and un, and that some of the proposed reforms could again leave Africa out in the cold. “When decision-makers are quite far from the realities of the country it’s more difficult to build empathy,” says Vera Daves, Angola’s finance minister. “That’s why it so important for us [Africans] to be more present within the institutions.”
Much of the work these institutions do is in Africa, where they are trying to reduce poverty (the continent has more than half the world’s poor), right listing economies, end civil conflicts and help refugees. But African leaders are alarmed by an impending plunge in cheap financing from the International Development Association (ida), the concessional arm of the World Bank. When covid-19 struck, the ida raised additional funds and stepped up its support for poor countries. In the past year it has committed perhaps $37bn around the world, up from almost $22bn in 2019. But this depleted its larder, and its commitments will probably be about $10bn lower in each of the next two years.
The cuts will happen even as African countries are being squeezed by higher food and fuel prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and by rising international interest rates. They want the ida’s funds refilled ahead of its next scheduled replenishment in 2025 rather than see it cut back financing. Yet donors are reluctant to hand over more cash. Axel van Trotsenburg, the World Bank’s senior managing director, points out that overall funding has risen, “particularly in Africa”...."