Ministers to discuss African investment bank

African ministers of economy will discuss proposals next week for a continental investment bank and stock exchange to promote development, an African Union official said on Thursday.

Maxwell Mkwezalamba, AU Commissioner for Economic Affairs, told a news conference, the proposal was to base the investment bank in Libya, restrict share ownership to Africans and get it up and running within two years.

The African Union is based in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa and it aims to promote peace, security, stability and good governance to help development and cooperation between its 53 member states in the world’s poorest continent.

“The extraordinary conference of African ministers of economy and finance meeting in Addis Ababa on January 14, will discuss recommendations to set up an African investment bank and stock exchange, which would help mobilise resources for the continent’s development,” he said.

He said share ownership would be African, including the private sector and the African diaspora. He said non-Africans would not be allowed to own shares in the bank.

Mkwezalamba said it would take longer than two years to create a continent-wide stock exchange.

He said ministers would also look at new ways of funding the organisation which is proposing a budget of $170-million this year. Just over a quarter of its funding comes from international partners.

Funding for the African Union is “very unhealthy and unsustainable”, Mkwezalamba said, because some member states do not even bother to pay and some foreign sources did not meet their commitments last year.

“The ministers will also review proposals for alternative sources of funding for the pan-African organisation such as levying taxes on all goods coming from outside Africa, and levying taxes on African airline tickets and insurance premiums,” he said.

Mkwezalamba said the ministers would also exchange views on global financial crisis with a view to making Africa’s voice heard at G20 summit in London in April.
- Reuters

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