Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), is to visit South Africa early next year to discuss economic issues with South African leaders, it was announced on Tuesday. During the visit on Jan. 5-7, Lagarde will meet with President Jacob Zuma, the key economic ministers, as well as the Reserve Bank Governor Gill Marcus to discuss the challenges facing African countries and emerging markets more generally, the IMF said in a statement. \"This will be my first visit to South Africa as Managing Director of the IMF. Not only is South Africa a vital member of the IMF, it is also an important player in the G-20 process,\" Lagarde said in the statement. \"This will be an opportunity for me to receive feedback on current challenges from such an important African voice. I also hope this visit will strengthen our partnership to work within the context of the IMF toward sounder and stronger global growth,\" she said. \"As I have noted, the world economy is in a critical phase, and we have to make sure we all work together to tackle the challenges on the road ahead,\" Lagarde said. Lagarde is currently on an African tour. During a visit to Nigeria on Monday, she urged developing countries to shore up their defenses, especially foreign exchange reserves, against a possible European recession next year. \"What we are saying to all developing economies is beware of what is happening in advanced economies at the moment. Beware of the clouds that are accumulating in European skies,\" Lagarde said.