Thursday, November 1, 2012

The challenge of vulnerability to external shocks remains significant, says Prof Ekpo

Participants & Facilitators:PHOTO/M.E. NJIE
The West African Institute for Financial and Economic Management (WAIFEM) is holding a two-week course in an attempt to defence against potential threats posed by heightened uncertainty from headwinds in the global economy due to the slow recovery from the crisis in Europe and the potential fiscal difficulties in the United States.

The course on “External vulnerabilities and policies” which is being presided over by WAIFEM in collaboration with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is underway in the Gambian capital, Banjul from October 29 to November 9, 2012. 

40 participants from WAIFEM member central banks are attending.

It is meant to examine the possible impact financial crisis in Europe and America could pose on WAIFEM member countries such as Ghana, Guinea Conakry, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and  The Gambia.

Economic think-tanks have noted that while economic growth remains robust in many West African countries, the outlook suggests that countries could remain broadly resilient to the weak global economic environment. 

Strains are however reported to be emerging in some cases with weak exports and a dip in tourism, dragging down output growth and counteracting the buoyancy of private consumption and investment, according to WAIFEM.

“Many of our countries in the sub-region have also been grappling with currency substitution or dollarization, there by exacerbating the challenge of macroeconomic management,” WAIFEM’s Director General Prof. Akpan H. Ekpo observed on Monday.

Among key questions to be addressed during the course will be: “What underlines a country’s vulnerability to external shocks? Why do some countries suffer so much from external shocks whilst others remain unscathed? And what are the solutions?” 

Prof. Ekpo agreed. He admitted that “the challenge of vulnerability to external shocks remains significant, and hence the need for capacity building for public servants and policymakers to direct and design appropriate measures to address these policy challenges.”  

Over the two weeks, the course will cover a number of key topics such as “macroeconomic management of capital flows; financial crises; managing natural resource revenues: the role of capacity development and institutions; hedging commodity prices; policy choices to manage natural resource revenues’ government debt management; managing aid flows; exchange rates regimes; policies and indicators of competitiveness; and hands-on exercises.”


Established as a collaborative sub-regional capacity building organisation in July 1996 by the central banks of five Anglophone countries which admitted its newest member (Guinea) in 2012, WAIFEM’s mission is to develop on a sustainable basis expertise in the field of “macroeconomic, debt and financial management” among staff of central banks, ministries of finance and economic planning and other public sector bodies with core economic management responsibilities.

The Institute is mandated to conduct research and consultancy in the area of macroeconomic policy management and promote best practices. Some 11000 people have benefited from 300 courses organised by WAIFEM since inception.

This story was first published on The Voice newspaper edition of Thursday, November 1, 2012

Written by Modou S. Joof

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