Following the multiple financial, health, and climate crises affecting Africa, countries should accelerate inclusive recovery efforts to boost economic growth, the Economic Commission for Africa’s Acting Executive Secretary, Mr. Antonio Pedro, has urged.
Speaking at a press briefing ahead of the 55th Session of the Economic Commission for Africa Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development (CoM 2023), Mr. Pedro said the impact of the shocks caused by COVID -19, the war in Ukraine and climate change have pushed more people into extreme poverty and have increased inequality worldwide.
“Africa is falling even further behind, with the continent now accounting for the highest proportion of the world’s poor of any region globally,” Mr. Pedro warned, emphasizing that the growing number of newly poor and vulnerable people makes it harder to close the gap between the rich and the poor.
“Recovery efforts must be pro-poor and inclusive, with a view to fostering a new social contract that offers equal opportunity for all,” he said, adding that, “It is important that our growth does not leave anyone behind and if we do so then the social contract that is key to have stability and prosperity will be completely disrupted.”
Mr. Pedro indicated that pro-poor and inclusive recovery must be deliberately incorporated in the design and implementation of policies, including by securing the input of all stakeholders such as Small and Medium Enterprises in such processes.
The 55th Session of ECA’s Committee of Experts of the Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, a statutory meeting of the ECA will be held from 15 to 17 March 2022. It will be followed by the Ministerial Segment of the Conference on 20 and 21 March 2023.
The Conference brings together Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development from African member States, governors of central banks, entities of the United Nations system and pan-African financial institutions.
In addition, the conference will also attract African academic and research institutions, development partners, intergovernmental organizations and other key stakeholders to discuss statutory issues pertaining to the function of ECA, engage and exchange views on economic and social development in Africa as well as take stock of progress on regional integration and other issues pertinent to the continent.
This year, the Committee of Experts and the Ministerial Segment will convene under the theme ‘Fostering recovery and transformation in Africa to reduce inequalities and vulnerabilities.
“The ability of African countries to effectively tackle poverty and inequality is also severely constrained given declining economic growth, narrowing fiscal space, rising debt, commodity shocks and tightening global financial conditions,” said Mr. Pedro, warning that Africa faces a higher risk of missing the poverty and inequality targets set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Agenda 2063.
Lamenting that the COVID-19 and the Ukraine conflict have wiped some of the development gains made in the last decade in terms of economic growth, social inclusion and poverty reduction, Mr. Pedro said Africa’s trade flows and supply chains were also disrupted. As a result, it was pertinent for Africa to promote local solutions. He said for its part Africa has reacted positively to the impacts of COVID-19 with the creation of the Africa Exchange Trade Platform (ATEX) digital platform to boost trade in critical commodities under the AfCFTA.
Mr. Pedro said the Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development aims to renew focus and action on reducing poverty, inequality and other factors that have left Africans vulnerable to these scourges.
He noted that Africa has considerable opportunities to build strong, resilient and competitive economies through accelerated implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area, development of carbon credit markets, fostering the emergency of regional value chains in the battery and electric vehicle sub-sector, to name a few.
Speaking at the same press conference, Second Vice-Chair of the 54th Bureau of the ECA and Zimbabwean Ambassador to Ethiopia and Permanent Representative to the African Union and ECA, Ms. Sophia Nyamudeza said that the theme of CoM 2023 was timely as African countries are recovering from COVID-19 and were experiencing world food crisis and suffering climate change shocks.
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