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Much like the United Nations — but with minor differences in numbers — both the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the African Development Bank (ADB) project a swift recovery for African economies in 2010, following a global recession and disastrous performances in 2009. During a tour of three African countries in March, IMF President Dominique Strauss-Kahn predicted that growth for sub-Saharan Africa will hit 4.5 per cent this year. Shortly before, an equally optimistic Donald Kaberuka, president of the ADB, said that his institution expects Africa’s economy to grow between 4.5 and 5.5 per cent in 2010. Already, in its latest World Economic and Situation and Prospects, published in January, the UN predicted that African growth will reach 4.3 per cent in 2010, up from 1.6 per cent the previous year.
Both the IMF and the UN attribute Africa’s recovery to the positive performance of the subcontinent’s biggest economies (South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya) and the revival of the global economy. Africa’s growth, the two institutions also note, will be second only to Asia’s. The UN and the IMF further suggest that African countries weathered the global recession better than most other regions of the world, partly as a result of the prudent fiscal policies that many governments implemented earlier.
Yet, as the UN report regrets, the crisis in 2009 “marked an unfortunate reversal of hard-earned social and economic gains that had been made in reducing both poverty and the large gap which separates Africa from its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).”
UN panel on funding climate change action
Three months after the December 2009 international climate change conference in Copenhagen, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed a panel to examine how to mobilize resources for reducing and dealing with the effects of climate change in developing countries. The panel will be co-chaired by Meles Zenawi, prime minister of Ethiopia and Africa’s chief negotiator at the Copenhagen talks, and Gordon Brown, the UK prime minister. It will review potential sources of revenue and submit initial recommendations to a climate negotiating session scheduled for 31 May–11 June in Bonn, Germany. Its final report is expected by November 2010.
In the Copenhagen Accord finalized at the conference, world leaders agreed to demands by African and other developing countries for help in facing the adverse effects of climate change. The accord included provisions for financial assistance of up to $30 bn over the three years of 2010-2012, with a conditional increase to some $100 bn by 2020.
Other members of the panel include Jens Stoltenberg, prime minister of Norway; Donald Kaberuka, president of the African Development Bank; and George Soros, chairman of the Soros investment and financial services company.
Mr. Anthony Lake, from the US, has been appointed by the UN Secretary-General as executive director of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF). He first joined the US Foreign Service in 1962 and has had a long career, including as national security adviser under President Bill Clinton. He also served on the board of the US Fund for UNICEF, with a stint as chairman from 2004 to 2007. Most recently, he was a professor at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Washington, DC. At UNICEF, Mr. Lake replaces Ann Veneman, whose term ended on 30 April.
Ms. Margot Wallström of Sweden has been appointed as the special representative of the UN Secretary-General on sexual violence in conflict. A former member of the Swedish parliament, she has been actively involved in promoting the participation of women in peace and security related issues. She also spearheaded campaigns to implement Security Council resolutions on halting sexual violence against civilians in conflict zones.
The Secretary-General has appointed Mr. Haile Menkerios of South Africa as his special representative for Sudan. At the time of his appointment, Mr. Menkerios was assistant secretary-general for political affairs, and previously the UN’s deputy special representative in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Before joining the UN, he represented Eritrea in various capacities, including as ambassador to Ethiopia and permanent representative to the UN.