Africa calls summit to respond to financial crisis

BRAZZAVILLE – The African Union said on Monday it would hold a summit next month on the continent's response to the global financial crisis.

It also urged member states to tighten their belts to help them withstand the impact of collapsing world markets.

"We urge African governments to pursue prudent monetary and fiscal policies to mitigate the effects of falling world markets on the continent, in a manner that does not compromise our development," African Union Commission chief Jean Ping told a meeting on sustainable development.

He said the continental body and the African Development Bank (AfDB) had agreed to hold the summit on November 12 in Tunis, where the majority of the bank’s personnel work.

"There is no doubt it will have serious repercussions on capital flows and their sustainability, as well as on trade in Africa," Ping said of the global financial turmoil.

The financial crisis also may reduce donors’ development aid budgets, Ping said while attending the Sixth Forum on Sustainable Development which opened in Congo Republic’s capital Brazzaville.

Ping is a former government minister from oil-producing Gabon, which has one of the highest average per capita incomes in Africa but stands to lose from weaker world oil prices, which have dropped by more than half from record highs in July.

African economies generally have been growing at their fastest pace for years thanks in part to booming Asian demand for their commodities exports and rising foreign investment.

But with a global economic slowdown and some developed economies tipping into recession, the International Monetary Fund trimmed its growth forecast for sub-Saharan Africa to 6 percent in 2008 and 2009 from about 6.5 percent in 2007.

The Tunis conference will come just a few days after the world’s major industrialised and developing economies meet in Brazil as the "G-20" to draw up plans to tackle the crisis in preparation for a global summit in Washington on November 15.

The president of the West African state of Benin, Thomas Boni Yayi, complained at the weekend that Africa’s poorest countries had no representation within the G-20, which includes only South Africa, the poorest continent’s biggest economy.