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Investment in Africa critical: IMF PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Agence France-Presse . Ouagadougou

IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn called Monday for investment in Africa, saying much was at stake during the start of his first African tour as the head of the Washington-based institution.

'Africa is for the IMF a place where it must invest a lot and where there is much at stake,' Strauss-Kahn told reporters ahead of talks with Burkinabe president Blaise Compaore and other African leaders in Ouagadougou.

'I wanted to come to discuss with heads of state the measures that we will take, the progress that must still be made, possible cooperation and the way the IMF is a factor that helps development in African countries,' he said.

Strauss-Kahn meets Monday with heads of state and government of the eight members of the West African Economic and Monetary Union, including the presidents of Ivory Coast, Benin, Mali and Togo.

A former French finance minister, Strauss-Kahn vowed to focus on Africa in his bid last year to become International Monetary Fund head. He was appointed in November.

'We're going to have a very important discussion on the future of development and the fight against poverty in francophone countries,' he told reporters shortly before his arrival to the Burkinabe capital Sunday night. In Ouagadougou, he dismissed notions of the IMF as a firefighter that 'puts out the fire but also drowns everything in its wake.' 'That's a vision that is a bit old and also very biased of what the IMF does,' he said.

Rather, Strauss-Kahn said, the 'reality' of the IMF's daily work was to build up the capacity of developing countries, and advise on the good functioning of central banks, taxes, customs and other key economic cogs.

'For the IMF, Africa is very important. Development aid, technical assistance, and the way of supporting growth are daily subjects and it is very important that one of my first trips should be made in Africa,' said Strauss-Kahn.

After Burkina Faso, he heads to Nigeria and Tanzania, but a stopover in Senegal scheduled for Sunday was cancelled, reportedly due to bad weather.

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