Addis Ababa, 26 March 2015 (AUC-ECA) – Africa must change the global narrative on its social and economic wellbeing, owing to its consistently positive performance in terms of growth, domestic resource mobilisation and social development. This is a key message from a thematic session of the pre-ministerial segment of the 8th Joint Annual Meetings of the AU Specialized Technical Committee on Finance, Monetary Affairs, Economic Planning and Integration and the ECA Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, currently taking place in the Ethiopian capital.
Sunny side of things
The session, dedicated to the review of recent economic and social developments in Africa, was anchored on a presentation from Mr Adam Elhiraika, Director of the Macroeconomic Policy Division of ECA. According to the ECA official, despite the odds, Africa will continue to do better than most other regions of the world in terms of economic performance and should now be regarded as the land of opportunity. The continent is tipped for continuous growth with East Africa expected to top the chats at 6.3%.
This good news for East Africa, he said, stems from its expanding private consumption mainly due to a rising middle class, improved intraregional trade, as well as huge investments in infrastructure and communications. The same factors, he said, also hold true, though to a lesser extent, for other regions of the continent with additional contributing factors being an improved fight against corruption and inefficiency, as well as cuts on non-essential state expenditure. The result is seen in a continent that has kept its deficit at just 4.2%.
Additionally, there has been a marked improvement in Africa’s social development, especially in terms of primary school enrolment. Gender parity and the provision of health services have also scored higher than in the recent past.
All is, however, is not gloss. “African countries are transforming but the pace of transformation and social development remains very slow,” echoed Mr Elhiraika.
He pointed out that continent needs to improve its economic and social institutions, mend its business climate and improve financing mechanisms. He said a crucial development would be for Africa to reduce its manufacturing deficit in order to improve the quality of its growth through the creation of jobs.
If it is true that the current slump in oil prices has negatively impacted the economies of oil producing countries, the effects have been minimal on the continent as a whole. Some experts at the session however begged to understand why oil-importing countries on the continent have not drastically benefitted from the declining oil prices, while suggesting that the continent should robustly tackle urban-rural inequalities, and address the debilitating effects of conflict on economies. In this regard, a proposal was made for the setting up of an early warning observatory on conflicts to help nib skirmishes right in the bud.
Jointly issued by the ECA and the AUC