Sub-Saharan Africa has enjoyed a sustained period of solid growth that has helped to improve living standards. In many countries, this performance was underpinned by sound economic policies, stronger institutions, debt relief, high investment and supportive global conditions. In 2016, growth slowed to a two-decade low exposing underlying vulnerabilities and rising public debt has put the need for consolidation firmly on the agenda. Countries need to strike a better balance between financing much needed investment and avoiding another debt build-up.
At this event, director of the IMF’s Africa department, Abebe Aemro Selassie reflects on what policy reforms are needed to address these challenges and explores the prospects for sub-Saharan Africa to revert to the high growth rates of the past.
Abebe Selassie was appointed Director of the African Department (AFR) at the International Monetary Fund on 19 September 2016. In a Fund career spanning 22 years, Mr. Selassie has worked in various parts of the institution. Most recently as Deputy Director of AFR, he was a key member of AFR’s senior management team, including overseeing the Fund’s highly successful effort to assist the three Ebola-stricken countries. In other AFR positions, he was senior resident representative in Uganda; mission chief for South Africa; has led work on AFR’s Regional Economic Outlook, and has worked closely with policymakers from many of the region’s frontier markets (Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana, and Kenya) to its more fragile countries (Burkina Faso, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone). Mr. Selassie has worked also in the IMF’s Strategy, Policy, and Review Department (SPR), and in the European Department (EUR). In SPR, he worked on low-income country and emerging-market program and policy design issues as well as gaining extensive operational experience on a number of high-profile crisis cases. In EUR, he worked on Turkey and Poland between 1999 and 2003. In a second stint more recently, he was Assistant Director and mission chief for Portugal during the Eurozone crisis. Before joining the Fund, Mr. Selassie worked for the Economist Intelligence Unit, specializing in sovereign credit risk issues, and then for the Ethiopian Government as Principal Economist in the Office of the President. He holds a B.A. in Economics from the City of London Polytechnic and a Masters in Economic History from the London School of Economics and Political Science.
Jonathan Leape is the Executive Director of the IGC. He is also an Associate Professor of Economics at the LSE and was previously director of the highly innovative “LSE 100 The LSE Course: Understanding the Causes of Things” since 2009. He was the founding director of the Centre for Research into Economics and Finance in Southern Africa, which was established at LSE in 1990 as an initiative of the Commonwealth Heads of Government to support the democratic transition in South Africa.
The International Growth Centre (@The_IGC) aims to promote sustainable growth in developing countries by providing demand-led policy advice based on frontier research.
Twitter Hashtag for this event: #AfricaDev
A transcript of Abebe Aemro Selassie's speech is available to download from Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa: drawing on the past, looking to the future