This is my first visit to Africa as managing director of the IMF. To seize fully the economic potential of its natural resource wealth, and make decisive inroads in the fight against poverty, will require strong policies. My discussions with leaders from the region make me optimistic this will be possible.
The key priority, supported by all leaders, is to harness the revenue from oil production for development and poverty alleviation. This will require continued sound macroeconomic policies, including fiscal policies that deal prudently with the windfall gains from current high oil prices.
While in Africa, much of our discussions are about the policy requirements for Africa itself. But the advanced economies must also play their part, and the IMF will continue to remind them of their responsibility in two areas in particular: more, and better coordinated, official development assistance, primarily in the form of grants; and improved opportunities for African and other low-income countries' exports. Improving market access to the advanced economies and dismantling trade-distorting subsidies in these markets are on the table in the Doha trade round. This is a critical opportunity to make a significant advance in multilateral trade liberalisation that will benefit the poorest countries.
This opportunity to listen to leaders from the region as well as to members of civil society [has] further strengthened my belief that the fund has an important role to play in improving economic growth and alleviating poverty in Africa.