Africa "taking off" but poverty unacceptably high - IMF's Lagarde

by Reuters
Thursday, 29 May 2014 07:32 GMT

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde addresses the Bretton Woods Committee annual meeting at World Bank headquarters in Washington May 21, 2014 REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

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MAPUTO, May 29 (Reuters) - Sub-Saharan Africa is "taking off" with strong, steady growth but poverty across the continent is still unacceptably high, the head of the International Monetary Fund said on Thursday.

The region is expected to grow by around 5.5 percent this year with the poorest countries expanding by closer to 7 percent, Christine Lagarde told an Africa Rising conference in Mozambique's capital Maputo.

"Sub-Saharan Africa is clearly taking off - growing strongly and steadily for nearly two decades and showing remarkable resilience in the face of the global financial crisis," Lagarde said.

But this positive outlook faced risks from slower growth in the world's advanced economies and in emerging markets, which are the region's main trading partners, Lagarde added.

Other risks included lower prices for some commodities, tighter external financial conditions and increased market volatility.

Africa's policy priorities should be to "build infrastructure, build institutions and build people," the IMF chief said, referring to the need to grow human capacity through training and education.

"Poverty remains stuck at unacceptably high levels - still afflicting about 45 percent of the region's households," she said.

(Reporting by Pascal Fletcher; Editing by Joe Brock)

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