African ministers converge on Lisbon to discuss the North
African finance ministers and other officials are heading to Lisbon for the African Development Bank’s annual meeting next Thursday and Friday, with investors, bankers and government officials networking and going to fringe meetings earlier in the week.
It’s the first AfDB meeting to take place in Europe for 10 years, and comes at a time when several European countries, including the meeting’s hosts, have themselves gone to bodies like the International Monetary Fund for a bail-out.
The world’s poorest continent was showing strong growth before the financial crisis and its economic reforms and mineral resources have attracted investment from across the globe.
But the financial crisis saw a withdrawal of hot money from Africa, and just as markets were getting back on their feet, conflict and/or regime change in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Ivory Coast, among others, have reminded investors of political risk.
The AfDB says it will discuss the lessons to be learned from the North African unrest at the meeting.
But Africa is making progress. Former Portuguese colony Angola last week got an upgrade to BB- by Fitch, while the ratings agency recently downgraded Portugal to BBB-. And African countries are not the only places with political uncertainty. The host country’s finance minister — in this case Portugal — would normally attend the AfDB meeting. But with a caretaker Portuguese government going to the polls this weekend, no one knows for now who that finance minister will be.