At the signing ceremony in Washington, Ms Shafik said that AFRITAC South would be the IMF’s eighth regional technical assistance centre, and its fourth centre in Africa, joining its sister institutions on the continent, namely AFRITACs Centre, East, and West. Regional centres have become a linchpin in the IMF’s technical assistance programme, covering more low-income countries and delivering a higher percentage of total technical assistance.
“The approach adopted for the operation of the Centre will not only allow us to collectively define our needs but more importantly to obtain just-in-time advice in a rapidly changing world where predictability has become an issue,” Finance Minister Jugnauth said at the ceremony. “I am sure that this flexible approach and the immediate availability of expertise will help our economies to be more proactive and effective in formulating the right responses to economic and financial challenges.”
The Africa Regional Technical Assistance Centres (AFRITACs) are part of the IMF’s Africa Capacity-Building Initiative launched in May 2002. Following calls from African leaders, the Initiative aims at strengthening the capacity of African countries to design and implement poverty reduction strategies, as well as improving coordination of capacity-building technical assistance in this endeavour. As part of the Initiative, three centres have been established in Africa. East AFRITAC was opened in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in 2002, and serves seven countries in East Africa. West AFRITAC was opened in Bamako, Mali, in 2003, and serves 10 countries in Francophone West Africa. Central AFRITAC was opened in Libreville, Gabon, in 2007, and serves nine countries in Central Africa.
AFRITAC South, scheduled for opening in late June 2011, will be located in Mauritius, and will cover 13 countries in Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean. With these countries, AFRITAC coverage in Sub-Saharan Africa will be extended to 37 countries. One last centre will be opened in Ghana to cover Anglophone countries in West Africa (AFRITAC West 2). The AFRITACs provide technical assistance in the core areas of expertise of the IMF on a grant basis and are financed by contributions from the beneficiary countries, bilateral and multilateral donors, and the IMF itself. Mauritius provides generous financial support to AFRITAC South. The support covers a sizable financial contribution to the centre’s subaccount and most of the administrative costs of the centre’s operations, as well as state-of-the-art office space, outfitted for occupancy.