By John Daniel Obioma
EVEN as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and climate disasters are impacting negatively on the economies of African countries, lessons learnt from the shocks of the Covid-19 pandemic have put African countries in good stead to weather the storm, says Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning Zainab Ahmed.
According to her, African leaders and policymakers have leveraged on their experiences from these challenges to make the continent stronger, after three years of economic stagnation.
Ahmed, who was one of the panellists at an IMF seminar on Debate on the Global Economy, said the harrowing experience Africans had from the COVID-19 pandemic has emboldened their leaders to establish vaccine manufacturing firms. In the same vein, the Russia – Ukraine war has offered no other choices to the continent as oil producing African countries are currently developing their huge gas and energy potential. This, she said, would enable African countries to survive and reach out to needy countries facing severe demand shortfalls.
With particular reference to Nigeria, Ahmed said after the locust years of the pandemic, Africa’s most populous nation was shifting its domestic obligations to protect and cater for the poor and low-income earners.
As debt levels remain high, many vulnerable economies face increasing strains from tighter global financial conditions, and global fragmentation pressures are increasing. Reflecting on the debt crisis, Minister Ahmed said Nigeria may also have to undertake a revision or renegotiation of its debt servicing profile to create room for adjustments as well as retire some risks and bonds nearing maturity.
The seminar, moderated by CNN’s Richard Quest, featured four other panellists — Kristalina Georgieva, IMF Managing Director; Mark Carney, United Nations Special Envoy for Climate Action & Finance; Paschal Donohoe, Finance Minister of Ireland; and Mohamed El-Erian, President of Queen’s College, at Cambridge University.