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World economic crisis - interview

Impact on Africa will be limited, says Senegalese president

Article published on the 2008-10-08 Latest update 2008-10-08 11:00 TU

Wade at the World Policy Conference in Evian(Photo: Reuters)

Wade at the World Policy Conference in Evian
(Photo: Reuters)

As financial markets all over the world have taken a hit in the last few weeks, Africa has not been immune. Egypt’s main index dropped more than 16 per cent on Tuesday; the continent’s largest economy, South Africa, saw its index drop seven per cent Monday, though it stabilised on Tuesday. Despite these results, Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade told RFI's Farida Ayari “this crisis will be limited for Africa.”

Speaking at the World Policy Forum in Evian, central France, on Tuesday, Wade said he is not alarmed.

“You cannot judge the effect of crisis just on the effect on the bourgeois class which will no longer be able to travel or who can no longer live in luxury,” he said. “That’s nothing compared to sub-Saharan Africa. That’s 700 million peasants, poor people! If they have enough to eat, the rest doesn’t matter.”

Economic experts say that African markets tend to be insulated from the global economic crisis because of limited interaction with the global economy.

Most of the economic growth on the continent is due to high prices for raw materials like oil, metals and minerals.

Wade said that, "even if some banks willfail in my country", he has faith in Africa’s natural and human resources.

“The survival of the growth of the world is in Africa,” he said. “Just as the United States enabled the global economy to develop and grow since the 19th century, Africa will develop because of its natural resources and its human potential. There will be profits for those who want to invest.”

However, if the economic crisis is drawn out, economic slowdown could affect trade in raw materials, the backbone of the African economy.