SPEECH DELIVERED BY PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI AT THE OPENING OF THE 2016 ANNUAL MEETING OF THE ASSOCIATION OF AFRICAN CENTRAL BANKS, IN ABUJA, ON AUGUST 18, 2016
1. It is my great pleasure to welcome you all to our capital city of Abuja, on the occasion of the 2016 Governors Symposium and the 39th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Governors of the Association of African Central Banks. I advise our guests, especially those who are visiting Abuja for the first time, to take time out to tour and enjoy the bustle and variety of the city and the well-known hospitality of the Nigerian people.
2. Your distinguished club, the Assembly of Governors of the Association of African Central Banks meets annually to discuss and exchange views and experiences on topical issues affecting African economies and seek ways to improve macroeconomic governance in our countries. I sincerely hope that this year’s event would generate discussions and provide viable policy options that would assist to resolve the numerous economic challenges facing the continent.
3. Your Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, I believe that the theme of this year’s Symposium—“Unwinding Unconventional Monetary Policies: Implications for Monetary Policy and Financial Stability in Africa”— covers contemporary issues and is of special relevance to us in Africa. It corresponds with a period when African economies are confronted with a number of growing and sometimes extraneous challenges that constitute threats to growth and the stability of our financial systems.
4. I am confident that you will come up with practical ways by which we can chart a way forward for the growth and development of Africa. The region is confronted with several global and domestic economic challenges. Most worrisome is the slowdown in growth; weakening global demand; rising inflation; restrictions in capital flows; rising debt levels; increased exchange rate volatility and depleting external reserves.
5. Those of us who rely on only natural resources such as Nigeria, Angola, South Africa, and Mozambique have been hit the hardest. We have also had to contend with the effect of the Ebola Virus Disease, which struck some countries in the West-African Sub-region. Furthermore, China, a major trade and business partner to a number of African countries is currently slowing down as it remodels its economy, sparking fears of further weakening.
6. Faced with these challenges, African Central Banks have been at their best in keeping African economies afloat through proactive and effective combination of conventional and innovative monetary policies. I urge you to continue to look for original home-grown solutions, not to rely on “fit for all purposes” prescriptions handed down from abroad. The world is a dynamic place and with innovation, we can survive.
7. In Nigeria, the Central Bank of Nigeria has for many years spearheaded economic stimulus measures through specific intervention programmes. I think these measures should be sustained through good times and through difficult times.
8. Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, we fully understand that monetary policy alone is not sufficient to bring about desired economic growth. We must carefully balance monetary and fiscal policy measures.
9. For us in Nigeria, while recognizing the challenges we are confronted with and the need to surmount them, we are determined to diversify the economy away from excessive reliance on oil and other primary products. Consequently, we are taking measures and implementing policies that would ensure we are self-sufficient, generate massive employment for millions of our youth, and explore our untapped human and natural resources.
10. We shall also embark on export and production diversification steps including investment in infrastructure; promotion of manufacturing through agro-based industries and expansion of Regional Trade. All these would involve integrating the informal economy into the mainstream and providing funds to Small and Medium Enterprises. We shall also continue, with greater determination and focus to pursue our goal of ensuring improved security for our country and its citizens, and without letting up on our fight against corruption and terrorism.
11. Side by side, with economic stimulus measures, we must intensify our surveillance and give guidance to the operations of our financial institutions to reverse the trend of illicit flows of funds out of Africa. We should all be serious in putting place measures aimed at ensuring that the proceeds of these illicit flows are repatriated to their countries of origin with minimal bureaucratic hitches.
12. Your Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, I now have the pleasure and honour of declaring this Symposium officially open. I wish you all very fruitful deliberations.