Africa sees high growth but surging food prices, calls for aid

Business Materials 12 April 2008 22:57 (UTC +04:00)

African countries remain concerned about the surging increase in the price of food that could undermine the region's recent successes in reducing poverty, African ministers said after meeting Saturday. ( dpa )

But efforts to help countries in Sub-Saharan Africa that are most in need should not come at the expense of stable economic policy, according to a joint statement from International Monetary Fund head Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Ousmane Kane, chair of the African Caucus and Mauritania's central bank chief.

"The speed and size of the price increases have been large," the statement said, but added that ministers expected the rise to be temporary and therefore would not take aggressive monetary action to counter the inflation fears.

The World Bank this week said food prices surged 86 per cent in the past three years and warned that they were likely to remain at high levels until 2015.

The IMF in a report on Sub-Saharan Africa forecast growth of 6.5 per cent and inflation of 8.5 per cent for 2008, and said the region was well placed to weather the global economic downturn.

But the report also said most countries were unlikely to reach a UN goal to halve poverty by 2015.

The African ministers called for greater international aid to help subsidize people struggling to buy food.

World Bank President Robert Zoellick this week said 500 million dollars in immediate donations to the World Food Programme were needed.