In the wake of a devastating earthquake that shook Morocco on September 8, 2023, the world was uncertain about the fate of the upcoming Annual Meetings of the World Bank Group (WBG) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). However, following a meticulous evaluation of Marrakech’s capacity to host the event, the leadership of both organizations, in close collaboration with Moroccan authorities, reached a unanimous decision – the 2023 Annual Meetings would proceed as planned in Marrakech. This decision, as emphasized by WBG and IMF leaders, symbolizes not only the resilience of the Moroccan people but also the spirit of international solidarity in the face of adversity. The Annual Meetings, slated to take place from October 9 to October 15, are set to bring together finance ministers and central bank governors from 190 countries. The significance of this event goes beyond mere economic discussions; it marks the 50th anniversary since the Annual Meetings were last held in Africa, specifically in Nairobi in 1973.
The choice of Morocco as the host country for this landmark event holds great symbolism. The continent of Africa stands as a microcosm of the world’s challenges and opportunities. As IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva noted during a pre-annual Meeting address in Abidjan, Africa’s abundant resources, youthful population, and potential for growth make it a linchpin in shaping the future of the global economy. Africa’s development is not only an African concern but a global imperative.
In an era where advanced economies grapple with ageing populations, Africa offers a unique opportunity to connect their abundant capital with Africa’s vast human resources. As highlighted in the Annual Meetings’ themes, the path forward is clear: sustainable and inclusive growth.
A view of an advertising billboard for the upcoming annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, following last month’s deadly earthquake, near the Palais des Congres in Marrakech, Morocco October 1, 2023. REUTERS/Abdelhak Balhaki
Addressing Global Economic Challenges
The economic landscape has significantly changed since the last Annual Meetings in Africa. While global life expectancy has risen, poverty rates have fallen, and technology has reshaped industries, challenges have also multiplied. Inequalities within and between countries have surged, and the world faces an existential climate crisis. Over the past decade, global growth has experienced a steady decline.
In this context, the 2023 Annual Meetings will focus on policies to pave the way for the next 50 years. The key priorities include:
- Reinforcing Economic and Financial Stability: Central to this is the fight against inflation, with central banks and fiscal policies playing pivotal roles. The IMF underscores the importance of avoiding premature policy easing and clearly communicating goals to shape inflation expectations.
- Laying Foundations for Inclusive, Sustainable Growth: This involves investing in people through education and healthcare, addressing infrastructure gaps, and embracing digitalization. These elements are vital pillars for prosperity and job creation, particularly in regions like Africa with burgeoning populations.
- Boosting Collective Resilience through International Cooperation: In an increasingly fragmented world, international cooperation is paramount. Climate change, debt challenges, and global financial safety nets demand coordinated efforts. The IMF’s Resilience and Sustainability Trust (RST) aims to support vulnerable economies in undertaking climate reforms while addressing debt issues remains a priority.
A Call for Strengthened International Institutions
Throughout the Annual Meetings, discussions will revolve around strengthening international institutions like the IMF and World Bank to address emerging and developing economies’ needs better. The call is for member countries to bolster the IMF’s quota resources, provide more financing for essential trusts like the Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust and the Resilience and Sustainability Trust, and expand the voice of emerging and developing countries within these institutions.
A view shows the entrance of the venue for the upcoming annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, following last month’s deadly earthquake, in Marrakech, Morocco October 1, 2023. REUTERS/Abdelhak Balhaki
A Bridge to a Prosperous and Peaceful Future
In his closing remarks, IMF Managing Director, Kristalina Georgieva revisited the 1973 Annual Meetings held in Africa, noting the shared challenges of inflation and conflicts. she invoked the word “Harambee,” meaning “pulling together in full cooperation,” spoken by Kenyan President Jomo Kenyatta. It is a call for unity and collaboration in these trying times.
As the world gathers in Marrakech for the 2023 Annual Meetings, it is with the hope that a bridge will be built to a more prosperous and peaceful future with the right policies and a shared commitment to cooperation. This event is an opportunity for global leaders to come together, learn from the past, and chart a course for the next 50 years, ensuring that growth is not just economic but sustainable, inclusive, and beneficial for all.
The earthquake that once tested Morocco’s resilience will now serve as a backdrop for a global display of solidarity and determination as the world unites to address its most pressing challenges.
Written by Olivier Noudjalbaye Dedingar, USA Correspondent