The Acting Executive Secretary, Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Antonio Pedro, has said that Africa requires an innovative people-centred development model to integrate poverty and inequality reduction into national and regional development strategies.
Pedro stated this at the 55th session of the Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Monday.
Pedro argued Africa is at the centre of a global sustainability transition, underpinning its path toward recovery, ensuring structural transformation and economic diversification.
He said the transition would enable the continent to build resilience, and achieve sustainable and inclusive growth, in line with Agendas 2030 and 2063.
“There is moderately good news as Africa’s growth is rebounding at 4.1 per cent, and inflation has reduced to 12 per cent so far.
“However, pundits argue that we need double-digit growth rates to achieve a breakthrough and promote a new cycle of sustainable growth and a reinvigorated business and innovation climate.
“This will require paying detailed attention to ensuring that strong macroeconomic fundamentals are in place to allow for structural transformation.
“We also need adequate financing and push for a reform of the global financial architecture to unlock long-term financing, green jobs, pro-poor policies, tax mechanisms and curbing illicit financial flows,” he said.
Pedro said that with limited fiscal space, every dollar spent must generate maximum socioeconomic impacts and co-benefits beyond Gross Domestic Product (GDP) metrics and profit maximisation.
He said that was why the theme for this year’s meeting “Fostering Recovery and Transformation in Africa to reduce Inequalities and Vulnerabilities,” was important.
According to Pedro, poverty and inequality were already significant in Africa before the recent global crises. These overlapping crises worsen and threaten to reverse two decades of hard-won progress.
He said Africa was facing a future where the total population of poor and non-poor who faced the risk of falling into poverty was nearly 695 million.
Pedro said that those hardest hit were the ones who recovered the slowest, and getting back on track would require years of urgent action and coordination at the global, regional, and national levels.
The ECA boss said Africa needed to adopt measures to mitigate the economic and social vulnerability, reduce economic inequality, foster inclusive and resilient growth, and accelerate poverty reduction.
“To strengthen social compacts, we need to improve the quality of multi-stakeholder dialogues and participation in policy and decision-making. We need a social state!
“We need to improve our understanding of the political economy of change and how to use behavioural incentives and nudges to achieve our strategic goals.
“We see the existential threat climate change continues to pose to countries, yet, the financing available to African countries to combat climate change and ensure a green recovery is insufficient and inadequate. “But leveraging green finance to accelerate the possibility of a green recovery can be within reach,’’ he said.
Pedro underscored the need for Africa to leverage the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement (AfCFTA) to bridge the inequality and vulnerability gap while fostering recovery and transformation in Africa.
“We must invest more in generating detailed growth diagnostic studies to determine our countries’ national value proposition and comparative advantages.
“We must also leverage skills gaps assessments to better align supply and demand between our education systems, societal and market needs.
“Employ trade decision support models to determine our best export destinations, and utilise GIS-enabled hotspot analysis of economic opportunities to understand better where our policy actions and investments will generate the greatest impact.”
Pedro said an integrated, coherent, complete toolkit was needed to support Africa’s structural transformation and supportive ecosystem for transformational change. This must be inter-generational.
“We need to control the narrative on our trajectory to sustainable development. In doing all of this, we cannot overlook our financing challenges.
“We will need to accelerate the development of our domestic and regional financial markets to raise the required revenues for development.”