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With the full force of the global financial crisis starting to hit Africa, leaders will gather Monday in Tanzania for an International Monetary Fund conference convened to tackle the issue.

When what many consider the worst economic crisis since the 1930s Great Depression erupted last year in the West, analysts initially believed Africa had a chance of weathering the financial storm with only a few scratches.

African banks invested little in the so-called "toxic" assets that sparked the crisis, shielding the continent from the credit crunch.

But with no hope of recovery from the global downturn before 2010, a bitter cocktail of dwindling remittances, shrinking export markets and looming investment cuts is threatening to poison the world's poorest continent.

Presenting a study last week in Washington, IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn painted a bleak picture of Africa's immediate future.

"After hitting first the industrial countries and then emerging markets, a third wave of the global financial crisis is now hitting the world's poorest and most vulnerable countries, and hitting them hard," he said.

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