According to press release made available by IMF Honorable Seth Terkper, Finance Minister of Ghana, and Ms. Nemat Shafik, Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), today signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a new Africa Regional Technical Assistance Center (AFRITAC) in the capital Accra in late 2013. The center, known as AFRITAC West 2, will serve Cape Verde, The Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone, complementing a network of existing AFRITACs in Gabon, Tanzania, Côte d’Ivoire, and Mauritius.
“AFRITAC West 2 will be the IMF’s ninth regional technical assistance center worldwide and fifth center in sub-Saharan Africa, fulfilling our commitment to extend the AFRITAC network to all sub-Saharan African countries,” Ms. Shafik said at the signing ceremony in Washington, DC. “Regional technical assistance centers have become a staple of the IMF’s capacity development efforts, covering a large group of low- and middle-income countries and delivering an increasing share of our overall technical assistance. The centers are flexible, and their staffs know well the potential and challenges of the environments in which they operate. This contributes to delivering effective, responsive, realistic, and sustainable technical assistance, as well as ‘good value for money’ to both recipient countries and the donors that support them,” Ms. Shafik said.
“The approach adopted for the operations and governance structure of AFRITAC West 2 will allow us to obtain demand-driven, hands-on advice in a rapidly changing world where predictability has increasingly become an issue,” Finance Minister Terkper said at the ceremony. “I am confident that this flexible approach and the availability of immediate, high-level expertise for many years to come will help policymakers in the AFRITAC West 2 member countries formulate even better responses to our economic and financial challenges.”
The Africa Regional Technical Assistance Centers (AFRITACs) are part of the IMF’s Africa Capacity-Building Initiative, launched in May 2002 (see Press Release No. 2/24). Responding to calls from African leaders, the Initiative promotes strengthening the capacity of African countries to design and implement their poverty-reducing strategies, as well as to improve the coordination of capacity development efforts. As part of the Initiative, four centers have already been established in Sub-Saharan Africa:
- East AFRITAC was opened in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in 2002, and serves 7 countries in East Africa.
- West AFRITAC, currently located in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, was opened in 2003, and serves 10 countries in Francophone West Africa.
- Central AFRITAC was opened in Libreville, Gabon, in 2007, and serves 9 countries in Central Africa.
- AFRITAC South was opened in Mauritius in 2012, and covers 13 countries in Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean.
The governance of the centers is designed to promote ownership and accountability of capacity development programs. Accordingly, each center is guided by a steering committee where the beneficiary countries usually have the majority of the seats. The governance of the centers is further enhanced by periodic independent evaluations of their activities and evaluation reports are available on the IMF’s external website.