IMF boss visits Kenya for money talks with government

The International Monetary Fund managing director, Ms Christine Lagarde, will jet in Kenya on Sunday for talks on new partnership with the government.

The Treasury cabinet secretary Henry Rotich said Ms Lagarde was expected to fly into Nairobi where she would meet various government and civil society officials. She leaves Kenya on Tuesday.

On Monday morning, she is expected to hold discussions with Central Bank and the Treasury officials before meeting President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Ms Lagarde visit is the first high profile tour by a sitting IMF chief, an indication of thawing of ties between Nairobi and the Washington-based group.

This high-level visit comes within the context of the conclusion of the IMF’s three-year Extended Credit Facility (ECF) to Kenya.  Negotiated in 2011, the ECF saw the fund wire about Sh64.81 billion ($750 million) to Kenya. The last tranche of the money was released in December last year.

“During our meeting, I will update her on what is happening in the country and some of the key economic challenges. The extended credit facility is also coming to an end and we will discuss future partnerships between the IMF and Kenya,” said Mr Rotich.

Her visit will “crown” three years of “uninterrupted” engagement between Kenya and the IMF, he added.

Kenya’s engagement with donor partners has become warmer since the Jubilee government took power. President Kenyatta’s meeting with IMF officials is, for instance, a sharp contrast to his predecessor Mwai Kibaki who had almost a no interaction policy with the Bretton Woods institutions.

Later in the evening, the IMF Washington office sent a statement confirming Ms Lagarde’s visit.

“Kenya has emerged as one of Africa’s ‘frontier economies’, and I am very interested in learning how the country’s leaders and people will build on this success moving forward,” said Ms Lagarde ahead of her tour.

Economists have pointed out that with spiralling debt as a result of heavy investments in infrastructure; it is in Kenya’s best interest to court the goodwill of the World Bank and the IMF.

As IMF managing director, Ms Lagarde has previously visited Côte d’Ivoire, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, and South Africa in sub-Saharan

Christine Lagarde

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