13 September 2015, Lagos – In order to enhance economic growth and productivity in West Africa, senior economists and professionals charged with the responsibility of preparing policy papers, statistical data, forecasts and other inputs in policy making process have been trained on how to upgrade their skills in developing macroeconomic models and the demand for money models in their economies.
Speaking while addressing participants at the opening ceremony of a regional course on modeling and forecasting for policy analysis, designed for senior economists and other professionals in the sub-region, organised by West African Institute for Financial and Economic Management (WAIFEM), in collaboration with African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), in Lagos, the Director General of WAIFEM, Prof. Akpan Ekpo, said the mission of the institute was to develop, on sustainable basis, expertise in the fields of macroeconomic.
He added, “The expertise will cover debt and financial sector management among the staff of Central Banks, ministries of finance, economic planning and public sector bodies with the core economic management responsibilities. So far, the institute has successfully executed over 520 courses since inception, and these have benefited more than 14,380 participants from the sub-region and beyond.
The Institute has the mandate to conduct research and consultancy in the areas of macroeconomic policy management and promotion of best practices. WAIFEM will soon commence e-learning programmes (Diploma and advanced Diploma) in banking supervision and public debt management. Plans are far advanced for the Institute to also commence courses in French with the intention of facilitating communication in the ECOWAS sub-region.”
He went on “Econometric modeling/forecasting for policy analysis helps in understanding the operation of an economy, as it enhances the policy and decision making process both at the macro and micro levels. In the implementation of monetary and fiscal policies, econometric method helps to quantify how the economy and monetary/fiscal policies work. It is also useful in monitoring the economy in making short and long term projections, in order to determine the path to be followed by policy makers.
For its efficiency, there is the need for assessing trends and developments in the domestic economy, external environment as well as evaluation of impact on monetary policy over the medium term. Also, there is the need for central banks in the region to have a clear understanding of monetary transmission mechanisms. This is realised through macro econometric methods based on the reality of the economy.”
He continued “In doing this, we should have sound systems for acquiring, sharing and analysing economic and financial data, so that policies can respond quickly to unforeseen developments and steer actions to achieve policy objectives. When sufficient data are available, policymakers should make use of econometric techniques and models for a better understanding of their economies. These techniques can be used to support good economic analysis, and not as a substitute for it. It is important to understand the linkages between data, economic methods, forecasting, analysis and policy decisions. But, we must understand that data and econometric methods have limitation, which is why, they are usually supplemented by expert opinion and informed judgement.”
The regional conference, which drew participants from University of Oxford, Ghana, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), monetary department of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), University of Ibadan and other areas in the sub-region also focused on stimulating economic growth and development within the region and beyond.
*Udeme Clement – Vanguard