News / Africa

    IMF Director Lagarde Warns of Looming Shocks in Kenya

    IMF's Christine Lagarde addressed Kenya's economic issues at the nation's parliament. (IMF photo by Stephen Jaffe)
    IMF's Christine Lagarde addressed Kenya's economic issues at the nation's parliament. (IMF photo by Stephen Jaffe)
    Reuben Kyama
    The International Monetary Fund's Christine Lagarde this week urged Kenya to decentralize management and fiscal powers to address large infrastructure gaps and take the lead in regional economic integration.

    As the managing director of the the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Lagarde spoke to a group of investors, diplomats and civil society organizations at several venues including Kenya's parliament in Nairobi.

    Lagarde said Kenya stands a good chance to lift the region economically if it goes ahead with its reform agenda.

    She commended the country’s ambitions, but warned about pitfalls in the coming years.

    She said this East African nation of 40 million-plus people is vulnerable to global economic forces – particularly a slowdown in emerging markets, which once bolstered the region’s growth.

    Remarkable economic gains praised

    “Indeed, Kenya’s economic gains over the past few years have been nothing short of remarkable,” said Lagarde. “Coming on the heels of a delicate political transition, growth remains robus – at more than 5 percent in 2013.

    “And a set of bold economic reforms have laid the foundations to lift the economy to middle-income status within the next decade – if Kenya maintains the reform momentum.”
     
    The IMF has predicted that sub-Saharan Africa will grow at a rate of nearly 6 percent in 2014. Kenya grew by 5 percent in 2013.  

    The IMF chief, who was on a three-day official visit to Kenya this week, underlined the Bretton Wood institution’s commitment to East Africa’s  leading economy.
     
    We have been by Kenya’s side through the many challenges you have faced” said the IMF chief. “We were here during the 2009 global downturn, during the 2011 drought, and we stood with you during the Westgate attack…

    “We have provided financial support through our Extended Credit Facility to deal with adverse shocks – and I am very happy that our executive board gave its seal of approval for the successful completion of the program just a few weeks ago.

    Lagarde notes constant support

    “We have also worked with the Kenyan government as it designed and implemented reforms, and we supported that agenda with financing, advice, and stepped-up technical assistance.

    “What I am saying is that the IMF has been Kenya’s partner – through thick and thin.”
     
    While in Kenya, Lagarde met with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, treasury officials, women leaders and representatives from the business community.

    Kenyan officials are seeking an emergency loan from the Washington-based lenders to use it as a fall back to looming economic shocks. They say the loan, which the IMF is to disburse as a lender of last resort, will be priced on commercial terms – signalling its possible impact on Kenya’s external debt burden.

    But the IMF boss advised Kenyan officials to promote fiscal discipline and encourage foreign investment in order to maintain the country’s high economic growth rate, and contribute to sub-Saharan development.

    Giving Kenya the credit

    “But let me be clear on this point: Kenya’s achievements are Kenya’s. Your country has had full ownership of the reform agenda. You have implemented it. You have garnered domestic support for it. And that is why it was a success.

    “Now is a good time to commend Kenya on its performance. But this is not the time for complacency.

    “Yes, Kenya’s future holds great promise. Looking ahead, achievements need to be deepened and broadened, so the economy can be made even more resilient, and the benefits of growth can be even more widely shared among all the Kenyan people.”

    The decision by Kenya’s treasury officials to turn to the precautionary lending arrangement is one of the measures the Kenyatta government is taking to prevent a recurrence of the shocks that hit the economy in 2011 after the Central Bank of Kenya failed to adequately respond to the combination of internal and external shocks.

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.