Monday, 23 April 2012

Matata the academic

Matata Mapon, the new Prime Minister is known as a good technocrat. His major accomplishment as Finance Minister was the debt alleviation package. In July 2010, just days after the 50 year independence celebrations, DRC reached the Completion Point under the HIPC initiative. This meant that $12.3 billion of Congo’s $13.1 billion debt stock was forgiven. Matata was previously a respected manager of the World Bank’s Bureau Central de Coordination (BCECO).

A lesser-known fact about Matata is his academic work. In 1999 he co-signed a really excellent book with François Kabuya Kalala: l’Espace Monétaire Kasaïen: Crise de légitimité et de souveraineté monétaire en période d’hyperinflation au Congo (1993-1997), published by CEDAF/Africa Museum/L'Harmattan. Jean-Claude Masangu Muongo, who was already Governor of the Central Bank, signed the forward.

The book analyzes how the two Kasai provinces refused to use new Zaire notes for over five years, while continuing to use demonetarized notes. The bills were very badly worn and had no legal basis but people believed in them. The creation of this unusual monetary space enabled the Kasais to avoid some of the serious macroeconomic problems that crippled other parts of the country. The book was well-received by Congo economy experts.

For a look at this other dimension of Matata-the-academic, see l’Espace Monétaire Kasaïen.

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