Kemi Osukoya
January 5, 2016

The International Monetary Fund Managing Director, Ms. Christine Lagarde, is on a six-day trip to two African countries, Nigeria and Cameroon, to meet with government officials, business leaders and civil society leaders as part of the organization’ efforts to strenghten ties with African countries.

During her trip, which began yesterday and will end on Saturday, January 9, Ms. Lagarde will meet with Nigeria’s President Muhammad Buhari and senior members of his team, as well as with lawmakers, civil society, business and women leaders to discuss ways IMF can support Nigeria in attaining its economic advancement goal while also mitigating the impact of weakening global oil prices on the country’s overall economy.

Nigeria, Africa’s biggest economy and the largest oil producer on the continent, has seen its revenues drop due to the global oil prices slump, highlighting the country’s dependence on oil exports and creating a cash shortage for the government.

Nigeria, which get more than half of its revenues from crude oil export, has tightened its purse strings and has imposed several measures including restricting access to foreign exchange markets, in an effort to save the weak oil prices from corroding the economy into free fall- the country’s GDP has stalled at 3 percent.

Since the start of 2014, the Nigerian currency, Naira, has fallen 20 percent against the dollar.

Though backed by the President, the effort is less favorable with the private sectors and investors who depend on foreign exchange markets or foreign currencies such as the dollar to perform their business transactions.

Investors have expressed their concerns and analysts say the measures could have adverse consequences that could lead to foreign investors pulling out of the country.

Ms, Lagarde will meet with President Buhari at the Presidential palace in Abuja, the country’s capital.

Ahead of her trip, Ms. Lagarde said the visit to Nigeria will provide her the opportunity to meet with President Buhari and his team to look at ways to help spurt up the progress the country has made so far at improving its business environment and promoting growth opportunities for the private sectors as well as discuss ways to strengthen social economic development and cohesion.

During her second leg of the trip, Ms. Lagarde will stop in Cameroon, the largest economy in Central Africa and one of the most diversified economies in Africa, where she will meet with the country’s President Paul Biya and his economic team, along with business executives, women leaders, and civil society leaders to discuss economic reforms, domestic and regional integration.

Cameroon plays an important role in the Central African region “as the largest and most diversified economy in CEMAC, and is well placed to sustain, and reinforce, the momentum of integration,” said Ms. Lagarde.

“The country and the entire CEMAC region are confronted with the twin shocks of the oil-price slump and a surge in disruptions related to security. Reinforcing regional integration and implementing ambitious reform agendas in CEMAC countries will be key to secure macroeconomic stability and restore strong and inclusive growth in the region,” said Lagarde.

While in Cameroon, Ms. Lagarde will also meet with Finance Ministers from the six member countries of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC), and deliver a speech to the group on Friday.

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