Africa Regional Technical Assistance Centers
The three Africa Regional Technical Assistance Centers (East, West, and Central AFRITACs) are a collaborative venture between the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the recipient countries, and bilateral and multilateral donors. They originated from the IMF's response to African leaders' call on the international community to increase technical assistance (TA) to Africa and focus it more sharply on capacity building. Their strategic goal is to strengthen the institutional capacity of African countries to design and implement their Millennium Development Goals and poverty-reducing strategies, supported by sound macroeconomic and financial policies, as well as to strengthen the coordination of capacity-building TA.
The AFRITACs stem from the regional technical assistance center model, initially launched by the IMF in 1992 in the Pacific Region, and since expanded on four continents. Partly as a result of the success of East AFRITAC the first Center to be established in Africa in 2002, and based in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania-the number of AFRITACs has now grown to three, with two more planned in the future. West AFRITAC, based in Bamako, since 2003, covers the countries of French-speaking West Africa, while Central AFRITAC, established in Libreville in 2007, provides assistance to states in Central Africa . When South AFRITAC and West AFRITAC II open, virtually all sub-Saharan countries will be served. Our Approach
Since its inception, East AFRITAC has adopted a demand-driven, hands-on, and output-oriented approach to TA deployment. As noted above, East AFRITAC's presence in the region is a hallmark of its TA delivery mode, which allows for prompt response in dealing with requests from member countries, while bringing to bear a deep knowledge of local context. Another key aspect is the development of local counterpart teams, which helps to contribute significantly to country ownership, promotes sustainability of the underlying reform effort, and leads to the creation of a future pool of national and regional expertise.
The Center effectively strengthens its support with strategic advice and technical backstopping from IMF Headquarters, ensuring the consistency, relevance, and quality of the assistance it provides. East AFRITAC does not operate in a vacuum, and its efforts are fully integrated with those of TA delivered from IMF headquarters in the region. TA efforts of AFE are a part of a bigger effort of the IMF, by which Headquarters provide the strategic direction and initial diagnostic evaluations that inform the Center's work. The Center's activities are thus embedded in initial and follow-up diagnostic missions from IMF headquarters, which often contribute to the foundation for the work that East AFRITAC then undertakes.
Internally, the East AFRITAC has adopted a results-based management framework anchored in an annual planning, implementation, and monitoring cycle. The framework identifies the main objectives for each area of work, the expected (and achieved) inputs and activities, main outputs, results, as well as next steps. The framework also makes explicit the links of East AFRITAC support to member countries reforms and poverty-reducing strategies, and the involvement of other donors. The management model for the Center as a whole translates into country- and sector-based frameworks. Member countries, through the Steering Committee, have expressed their appreciation of the clarity brought to the Center's operations through this approach.
As per its mandate, East AFRITAC has put considerable effort into liaising closely and coordinating with development partners in the formulation and delivery of TA. In this regard, East AFRITAC had rightly anticipated a trend towards greater donor cooperation in most of the countries of East Africa . Overall, the Center's model of TA delivery has enabled better alignment of capacity-building activities with country-driven initiatives in its areas of work, and has facilitated the tapping into, and use of, expertise available within the region.
Key Areas of Work
In line with the main priorities set for the work of the East AFRITAC by its Steering Committee, the Center's mandate includes the following areas.
Revenue Policy and Administration
The Center's assistance in this area aims to assist member countries in building capacity for strengthened revenue administration. The assistance is provided in the context of the majority of revenue authorities in the region maintaining a fast pace of reforms and modernization. Key focus areas include: implementing risk-management programs; deepening the integration process and improving management of the large, medium, and small segments of the taxpayer population; strengthening reform and modernization management; formulating a common tax procedures code; improving taxpayer service programs and advance rulings regimes; reviewing and improving business processes; and deploying modern information technology systems.
Public Financial Management
The Center's assistance in this area aims to assist member countries in building capacity for reforms in budget preparation and execution. This includes strengthening legal frameworks and systems for state financial management; reforming budget processes and introducing program performance budgeting; reforming classification systems; improving treasury systems; upgrading cash- and debt-management procedures; modernizing financial accounting and reporting systems; and improving expenditure control monitoring. The East AFRITAC has also been active in assisting member countries to improve the internal structure and organization of finance ministries and to design and evaluate public financial management reform programs. A final area of involvement has been intergovernmental fiscal relations and assistance to lower levels of government.
Financial Sector Regulation and Supervision
The East AFRITAC's assistance in this area aims to strengthen the legal and regulatory framework for supervising banks and nonbank financial institutions. This includes assisting countries in achieving compliance with the Basel Core Principles for Effective Banking Supervision; improving on-site inspection and off-site supervision activities; making them more risk-focused; and implementing consolidated supervision to supervise banking groups and financial conglomerates effectively. The Center also provides support for countries to address specific issues, such as anti-money laundering/combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) measures; adopt international financial reporting standards (IFRSs); and supervise microfinance and foreign exchange bureaus.
Monetary Policy and Operations
East AFRITAC aims to support capacity creation at central banks in the area of monetary policy and operations. The focus of the work involves supporting central banks to create in-house capacity for the formulation and implementation of appropriate monetary policy; facilitating the development of foreign exchange, money, and domestic debt markets through the progressive adoption of market-based instruments; enhancing institutional capacity for managing systemic liquidity and conducting efficient monetary operations; assisting national initiatives for the modernization of payment and settlement systems and harmonization of regional efforts involving cross-border systems; supporting capacity creation for management of foreign exchange reserves; and providing assistance to deal with accounting issues impacting central banks, including the interpretation and adoption of IFRSs. The Center also supports the building of institutional capacity for managing systemic liquidity, conducting efficient monetary operations and managing foreign exchange reserves. Progress in member countries in these areas also comes under the spotlight, as the Center intends distilling important lessons from across the region.
Economic and Financial Statistics
The Center has put considerable effort into building capacity in the region to produce quality, sound, timely, and accessible national economic and financial statistics and metadata. The Center has also aided with the assurances of integrity of member country statistics. Hence, the Center assisted with the drafting of new statistical acts ( and ). Recent initiatives include assistance for member countries to participate in the General Data Dissemination System (GDDS); improving the quality of macroeconomic statistics, primarily in national accounts and prices; and applying internationally accepted concepts and methodologies in data compilation, transformation, and dissemination. The aim is to achieve consistency among all the macroeconomic variables, which will in turn promote the formulation of sound macroeconomic and financial policies.
With the appointment of a resident macroeconomic policy advisor in December 2007, the Center aims to assist countries in developing a macroeconomic framework for sustainable and poverty-reducing growth, particularly through the improvement of fiscal forecasting, monitoring, and reporting practices. The Center will assist in the establishment or strengthening of macroeconomic units in key economic agencies and provide training in debt analysis, financial programming, and statistical and modeling techniques.