Page last updated at 13:18 GMT, Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Brown set to meet African leaders

IMF boss Dominique Strauss-Kahn on 'life or death' crisis

Gordon Brown is to meet African leaders on Monday to discuss their concerns over how their economies have been affected by the global downturn.

The Prime Minister will chair the G20 global summit in April which aims to tackle the world slowdown.

Only one African country, South Africa, is taking part in the leaders' summit.

The news was announced as African finance ministers met in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania to discuss how Africa should respond to the crisis.

Nemat Sharik, the permanent secretary of the UK's department for international development, told the BBC at the meeting that Mr Brown would meet African leaders on 16 March "to discuss the developing world's concern over the effects of the recession" ahead of the G20 summit.

Warning

CRUNCH TIME FOR AFRICA
Zambia school children
World leaders will meet next month in London to discuss measures to tackle the downturn. Click here for our in-depth guide to the G20 summit.
Only one African country will be represented at summit - South Africa
This week BBC World News and World Service Radio will be examining how Africa is coping with the crisis, with reports from around the continent

Meanwhile, African leaders were warned by the managing director of the World Bank, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, that they risked being the "innocent bystanders" to the worldwide recession.

She told the conference that Africa and developing countries should not become the victims of the credit crunch.

She said that, even before the crisis, Western nations had fallen behind on their pledges to double aid to developing countries made at the Gleneagles summit in 2005.

Earlier in the week, she announced a high level reform commission, led by former Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo, to make it more representative.

'Severe' impact

Meanwhile, the IMF has warned that the rapidity of the slowdown will hit Africa hard.

On Tuesday, IMF managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn said that world growth would be negative this year.

"The IMF expects global growth to slow below zero this year, the worst performance in most of our lifetimes," Mr Strauss-Kahn said.

The IMF predicts that growth in sub-Saharan Africa will slow to about 3% in 2009, half the growth rate it previously thought, and Mr Strauss-Kahn said even this rate may be "too optimistic".

"Even though the crisis has been slow in reaching Africa's shores, we all know it is coming and its impact will be severe," he said.

"We must ensure that the voice of the poor are heard. We must ensure that Africa is not left out."

Vulnerable

Less than a year ago, the IMF's forecast for sub-Saharan Africa was economic growth of 6.7% in 2009, an increase on the 5% growth enjoyed in 2008.

Now the low growth forecast means that many African countries are likely to see very little increase in living standards, and could fall further behind in meeting poverty targets.

The IMF says that 15 of the 21 countries which it judges most vulnerable to the crisis are in Africa.



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