A Message from the Coordinator

Feb 22, 2021 | MFW4A

More than a year since Africa recorded its first confirmed case of the Covid-19 virus in Egypt on 14th February 2020, there remains uncertainty around the pathways of the pandemic, the means and speed of any economic recovery, and the type of structural changes the crisis will bring in the long-term. While Covid-19 has evolved more slowly in Africa compared to other regions around the world, the combination of domestic lockdowns and related spill over from a global recession have taken a significant toll on the continent’s economic activity.

African governments have been at the forefront in responding to the crisis. Many have taken emergency measures to help provide immediate financial support, amid limited fiscal space. While these measures were helpful in mitigating the immediate impact of the crisis and boosting the effectiveness of stimulus efforts, looking ahead, authorities will need to strike a careful balance between the need to support growth over the near term and maintain macroeconomic stability. Available forecast projects a recovery in 2021. However, such recovery is contingent upon the global success in dealing with the pandemic.

This past year, we also experienced first-hand the importance of the financial system and how its ability to respond to crisis can have a deep impact on African economies and the financial sector.  Against this backdrop, we organized our first virtual Annual General Assembly (AGA) in December. The two-day meeting under the theme Financial Sector Development in Africa in the Era of COVID-19 was highly attended with over 250 participants from 50 countries. The AGA convened an outstanding group of distinguished speakers and panelists as we examined five areas: Measuring the effectiveness of financial sector policy measures; banking regulation and supervision challenges; trade finance barriers; mobilizing institutional investor assets and promoting a gender-sensitive economic recovery.

We also began a process of refreshing our new three-year Strategy. We spent many months reflecting on the role of financial sector development not only in helping the recovery during and after Covid, but also on how Africa can take full advantage of the structural changes expected to happen post-Covid in order to build a greener and more inclusive economy. We also reflected on our past successes and failures, and how MFW4A should evolve to remain relevant in a world marked by rapidly changing socio-economic, political and financial landscape. At the centre of our thinking is how we can make finance work in response to Africa’s pressing challenges, including poverty, gender inequality, climate change and unemployment.

As MFW4A embarks on this new journey, we will look to double down our role as a market facilitator and knowledge hub. Going forward, our efforts will combine cutting-edge research to generate insights on emerging issues, leveraging our convening power to bring ideas into action, and developing quality programming and capacity building through engagement with our networks and partners with influence to change policy and practice. The topics that were covered in the AGA will remain a priority in the new phase, but with a renewed focus on the enablers and risks associated with progress. The current crisis has turbo-charged trends such as digitization, that were already underway before the crisis but that were slower in adoption. The crisis has also demonstrated the enormous risks that financial system fragility can create in the overall economy and for people’s livelihoods, and other forces such as climate change can further inflict losses in the African financial sector and undermine the economic growth potential.

We look forward to launching our new Strategy and for your continued support and collaboration.

Stay well, stay safe.

Abdelkader Benbrahim
MFW4A Partnership Coordinator