African governments blamed for doing little to address global economic crisis

Economists and trade experts attending the 12th Africa Trade Network meeting in Accra, on Tuesday said African governments were doing too little to deal with the impact of the global economic and financial crisis.

They said the crisis should be a wake up call to governments to rethink their policy options and to adopt new ideas that would change the structure of their economies and remove the dependence on few export commodities.

It is estimated that the African continent would be double hit by the crisis due to less revenue from commodity exports and drying up of development assistance from the developed economies, which could impact directly on the continent’s ability to meet the Millennium Development Goals.

Foreign Direct Investments are expected to fall by 10 percent while exports are expected to decline by the same rate.

Mr Tetteh Hormeku, a trade expert with the Third World Network, said the crisis facing African countries was not only a question of the export of a narrow basket of products, but a systemic problem inherent in the economies as a result of the pursuit of liberal policies over three decades.

He said it was clear that the crisis had begun to affect most African countries, creating in its wake, job losses as individuals cut expenditure and companies responded by reducing output.

Mr Michael Herrmman, an economist with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), said there was growing unwillingness of banks to lend to the real sector.

This, he said, could lead to increase in the number of unemployed as companies begin to cut down on output in the face of shrinking demands from household.

Mr Herrmann called for a stringent regulatory oversight of the countries financial systems, arguing that supervision at the institution level was not enough to ensure the soundness of the entire financial system.

There was also the need, he said, to discourage speculation of capital flows and encourage timely alignments of exchange rates to avoid mismatch and build up of debts while preventing leakages from the economy through imports.

Ms Dzodzi Tsikata, a lecturer at University of Ghana, Legon, said while there was no evidence of reduction in aid, any such moves would pose a threat to the attainment of the MDG goals and also social security implications for women who are likely to suffer more under in-formalisation.

She said it was dangerous that the fundamental rethink of policy by government has not happened and called for action to identify policies that would maximise the productivity of the various segments.

Mr Kingsley Offei-Nkansah, General Secretary of the General Agriculture Workers Union, said the loss of arable land to companies engaged in plantation of exports crops, had a dire implication for food production and security in the country.

The 2009 Annual Review and Strategy Meeting of the Africa Trade Network (ATN), is discussing the impact of the global economic crises on Africa to enable civil society come out with appropriate responses in their campaigns to deal with the crisis.

The four-day conference being held from August 11 to 14 2009, will explore the implications of the global crises on food, energy, finance, trade and production.

It will also chart a framework within which on-going African civil society advocacy and campaigns on the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs), World Trade Organisation (WTO), debt, resource extraction and other economic policy concerns can be situated.

The meeting brings together members of the ATN and other networks of civil society organisations working on finance, trade, investment and economic development in Africa.

Source: GNA

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