Hot topics | Coronavirus pandemic

Why are African nations supporting the IMF's Kristalina Georgieva?

Why are African nations supporting the IMF's Kristalina Georgieva?

17 african finance ministers endorsed IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva in a statement issued earlier this month in the wake of allegations that she instructed staff to manipulate data to favor China while she was the world bank's chief executive.

Following a meeting with Georgieva, representatives from the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), and the ministers on Africas response to the covid-19 epidemic and recovery efforts, the move raises concerns about the African minister s engagement priorities.

In their statement, the 17 African finance ministers praised Georgieva and the IMF's efforts for poorer nations, including debt relief, and provision of more than $30 billion to African economies last year. They describe Georgieva as a true partner who has demonstrated integrity, energy, and progressive advice and call for fair investigations into the data manipulation allegations against her.

According to the ministers, She has been an invaluable partner who has contributed to our collective successes.

The allegations that the World Bank made in its 2018 Doing Business report are incredibly serious and need to be investigated. However, they further stated that they believe that this must be done in a manner that does not undermine the IMF's integrity and, above all, must allow for sanity and justice.

The ministers said they are working with Georgieva on extending the debt maturity and dealing with the climate crisis.

Seize African ministers backed IMF head Georgieva, who is also headed by six international heads.

They are from Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cte dIvoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Mauritania, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalias, Sudan, Tanzania, and Togo.

It seemed to me that their statement was really reactive and the discussions that theyre having are much more in response to what is happening on the international agenda, rather than them setting their own agenda and delivering statements that relate to their personal agenda, says Hannah Ryder, CEO of Development Reimagined, an African-led international development consultancy with headquarters in China.

Inquiry into World Banks Doing Business survey

Last month, an inquiry determined that Georgieva had played a key role in influencing the World Banks 2018 Doing Business survey. The allegations cast doubt on Georgievas future at the IMF, but after reviewing the allegations, the fund's executive board on Oct. 11 announced she would remain as its managing director, saying their investigation "didn't conclusively demonstrate" impropriety.

Janet Yellen, America's treasury secretary, said the allegations raised legitimate issues but that a leadership change was not necessary due to lacked of direct evidence.

The African finance ministers statement was one of several issued by SKDK, a public relations firm retained by Georgieva.

She also received support from Nicholas Stern, the London School of Economics's chairman of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change, as well as France and other European countries.

The countries that released the statement, with the exception of Botswana, received millions of dollars in IMF financial assistance and debt service relief in 2020. As part of this assistance, $8 billion will be given to Egypt, $3.4 billion to Nigeria, and $2.47 billion for Sudan.

The 17 countries climbed an average of 11 spots in the Doing Business rankings from the 2017 report, which was published in 2016, the year before Georgieva joined the World Bank, to the 2020 report that was released in 2019, the same year she left. Georgievas tenure at the World Bank and IMF has been favorable to these African nations.

The Development Reimagined CEO, Ryder, claimed that rather than paying attention to Georgieva, the African finance ministers could have engaged on issues that are much more substantive on questions raised about the Doing Business report, such as bias and the need for reform.

Why the African finance ministers didn't engage on that, focusing more on Georgieva, and the scandal itself, it just shows to me at least that the coordination process isn' t yet in a place where the finance ministries can be more reactive and planned, she said.

She explains that the coordination process needs to change and improve in some ways.

Sign up for the Quartz Africa Weekly Brief here for news and analysis on African business, technology, and innovation in your inbox.

You may also like: