Yaounde, Cameroon, 4 June 2016 (ECA) – The link between development planning and urbanization in Africa’s drive towards structural transformation will come under close review at a High Level Policy Dialogue convened by the UN Economic Commission (ECA) from 7 to 9 June 2016 in Yaounde, Cameroon.
The Dialogue, which is the fourth in a series kick-started in 2014 by the ECA, ultimately aims to promote coordination and coherence among African planners in their delivery of development policies. The Yaoundé event has been necessitated by the wanton lack of integration of urbanization concerns into African national development plans despite a glaring urban sprawl in many countries on the continent. This issue is recognised in the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and well noted in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)/Agenda 2030. Current estimates show that 40 per cent of Africa’s people live in urban areas and generate 55 per cent of the continent’s GDP. However, the growing rate of urbanization is taking place without African countries adequately integrating these concerns in their national development plans, which can deter some aspects of growth and transformation such as in the industrialization and agricultural modernization processes.
Ms. Aida-Opoku-Mensah, Director/Officer in Charge of the Capacity Development Division at ECA underscored the fact that “the High Level Policy Dialogue offers development planners an opportunity to debate on the policy implications of integrating urbanization concerns into national development planning, and ultimately, the structural transformation agenda.”
The Yaounde Dialogue will therefore seek to provide a basis to tackle the deficiencies of urbanization within the development equation by establishing a network of high-level policy advocates for the systematic integration of urbanization concerns in the overall framework of development planning in Africa.
Running over three days, the High Level Policy Dialogue coincides with the launch of ECA’s new flagship policy-support tool, styled « Country Profiles » to the planners and Cameroonian State officials. Based on data from a wide range of official sources, the periodicals propose macroeconomic and social policy directions for African states especially with a view to their structural transformation.
The inaugural batch of the profiles, covering the year 2015, was first presented to African leaders during the ECA/African Union conference of economic planning and development ministers held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in April 2016. A total of four countries in the Central African sub-region: Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Congo and Sao Tome and Principe were profiled in that batch. These four profiles have generally regretted the very low input of manufacturing in the GDPs of the countries in question due to a heavy dependence on revenue from raw materials and rents from the extractive sectors. ECA has used the profiles to urge the member States reviewed, to do far more in diversifying their economies and in adding value to their exports, albeit with country-specific recommendations in each Profile. Meanwhile data collection for the other countries in the sub-region to be profiled in 2016, notably: Chad, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea are underway.
Speaking ahead of the 9 June 2016 presentation in Yaounde, ECA’s Deputy Executive Secretary in Charge of Knowledge Delivery, Giovanie Biha, intimated that in the long run, the country profiles would be used as a tool through which the ECA will monitor the pace of structural transformation on the continent.
Other flagship publications by ECA, notably the Economic Report on Africa 2016 and the African Regional Integration Index will equally be presented to senior Cameroonian Government officials and the development planners from across Africa who will take part in the Policy Dialogue. A link to profiles published this far across Africa would be found here: www.uneca.org/publications/country-profiles.
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