Ken Ofori-Atta: ‘What Does An African Finance Minister Do Now?’

17-04-2020

Ken Ofori-Atta: ‘What Does An African Finance Minister Do Now?’

In a candid diary, Ghana’s finance minister explains how he is tackling the looming crisis...

It’s 5am and I stir. My stomach feels cramped. I have slept no more than four hours. My mind races. The problems cascade through. I hear the birds and do my meditation. My wife Angie and I are in the middle of an Easter study on the Book of Daniel, and I can’t help but think of the writing on the wall: “mene mene tekel upharsin.” Have we been weighed and found wanting? But I am optimistic there will be a few who will stand up and become modern-day martyrs, not only to defeat this pandemic but to create a new era.

On our minds is the question of surgical and N95 masks for healthcare professionals. I make two calls to China to speak to our ambassador about ventilators, and another to Israel to a fellow from the Aspen Global Leadership Network about face masks, gloves and other forms of protection, and discuss a charter of a plane to bring these items to Ghana. Then a follow-up call to Vera Songwe, head of the UN Economic Commission for Africa, and Tito Mboweni, South Africa’s finance minister, to formulate our strategy for debt relief and commiserate on the downgrading of South Africa’s sovereign rating. Are the rating agencies beginning to tip our world into the first circle of Dante’s Inferno?

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Source: Financial Times

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