Accra (Ghana), 1 November 2023 - The Sub-Regional Offices for North and West Africa of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the Government of Ghana launched on Wednesday November 1st, in Accra, Ghana, of a Joint Intergovernmental Committee of Senior Officials and Experts for North and West Africa on the theme "Investing in energy transition, food security and regional value chains for sustainable development in the North and West African sub-regions".
This joint meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee of Senior Officials and Experts is taking place against the backdrop of a global economy still weakened by the Covid-19 pandemic, the impact of the Russia-Ukraine conflict on food and energy prices, rising borrowing and debt servicing costs, and the disproportionate impact of climate change, which is costing continental governments between 2% and 9% of their budgets.
Indeed, the United Nations forecasts an increase in global economic output of 2.3% in 2023 and 2.5% in 2024, figures that remain below the average growth rate of the two decades preceding the pandemic (3.1%). In Africa, growth rates are expected to fall slightly from 3.5% in 2022 to 3.4% in 2023, before returning to 3.5% in 2024, but they will probably remain well below the 7% growth rate needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the 2030 deadline.
The session enabled participants to discuss short- and medium-term responses to food and energy security issues in North and West Africa that take account the changing regional and global contexts.
Participants also discussed the activity reports and results achieved by the two sub-regional offices, examined their future work programmes and refined their strategic orientations as they relate to the development priorities of the countries of North and West Africa.
The opening ceremony of this joint session was chaired by the Deputy Minister of Finance of the Republic of Ghana, Dr. John Ampontuah Kumah and took place with the participation of of the Directors of the ECA Sub-Regional Offices for North Africa and West Africa, Zuzana Brixiova Schwidrowski and Ngone Diop, the Director-General of the National Development Planning Commission of Ghana, the President of the outgoing Bureau of the Intergovernmental Committee of Senior Officials and Experts for West Africa, Dr. Kodjo Esseim Mensah-Abrampa, the Director General of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Sustainable Development of Mauritania and Chairman of the outgoing Bureau of the Intergovernmental Committee of Senior Officials and Experts for North Africa Mr. Cheikhna Cheikh Ahmed Beddad, and the United Nations Resident Coordinator for Ghana, Mr. Charles Paul Iheanacho Abani.
In his opening address, the Deputy Minister of Finance of the Republic of Ghana, Dr. John Ampontuah Kumah, summarised the food and energy insecurity challenges facing Africa and the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic and the conflict between the Russian Federation and Ukraine.
Dr. John Ampontuah Kumah stated that: "The challenges we face are enormous, but our collective determination and cooperation can lead us to transformative solutions.
"I am confident that, together, we can cross the proverbial Jordan River to a brighter and more inclusive future, where Africa will finally achieve its potential", concluded the Deputy Minister of Finance of the Republic of Ghana.
For her part, Ngone Diop, Director of the ECA's Sub-Regional Office for West Africa, said: "Addressing the two issues of our meeting this year, namely the energy transition and food security, will have a multiplier effect on all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)".
Zuzana Brixiova Schwidrowski, Director of the ECA's Sub-Regional Office for North Africa, said: "This year's theme is crucial as it not only addresses major issues and urgent ongoing crises, but also offers a unique opportunity to redefine policies to promote the acceleration of sustainable food systems and healthy diets, the promotion of regional value chains for sustainable development, and the energy transition towards renewable energy."
The United Nations Resident Coordinator for Ghana, Mr. Charles Paul Iheanacho Abani, stressed that "the two crucial issues you have chosen to discuss - the transition to renewable energy and food security - have the power to reshape the future of African economies and make a significant contribution to the global sustainability agenda".
Parallel to this event, the ECA Offices for North and West Africa organised a joint expert meeting on "Transition to renewable resources for energy and food security in North and West Africa".
This joint meeting brought together 22 West and North African countries and representatives of the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) of the two sub-regions.
Note to editors:
For more information about the expert meeting on “Transition to renewable resources for energy and food security in North and West Africa” and the second Joint Intergovernmental Committee of Senior Officials and 'Experts for North and West Africa, visit the ECA website (https://www.uneca.org/eca-events/fr/icsoe-na-wa-2023).
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