Brazzaville, Congo, March 3, 2021 (ECA) - Africa should make a swift recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic to accelerate progress on sustainable development and build an inclusive pathway to achieving the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063, Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Congo, Firmin Ayessa, said Wednesday.
Describing conditions caused by COVID-19 as unprecedented, Mr. Ayessa said the health and economic situation in Africa has been severely impacted by the pandemic, making it urgent for the continent to build back better and greener.
“My country is now a leader in the fight against climate change and as proof our country is at the front of the establishment of the Blue Fund for the Congo Basin which has the objective to redefine the foundation for collaborative economies which include rational exploitation of forest and sustainable management of water, coastal areas, the Congo river and its tributaries,” he told delegates at the Seventh Africa Regional Forum for Sustainable Development (ARFSD), which was officially opened Wednesday by President Denis Sassou Nguesso.
The regional Forum seeks to integrate and review progress made in the implementation of the global 2030 Agenda and Africa’s Agenda 2063.
Speaking at the same event, Arlette Soudan-Nonault, Republic of Congo’s Tourism and Environment Minister, and incoming Chair of the Seventh Session of the ARFSD said Africa needs a sustainable development model to achieve the 2030 Agenda and the Agenda 2063.
Reconstructing post COVID
In her message to the Forum, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, bemoaned that COVID-19 threatened decades of development progress and set back Africa’s plans to deliver on the SDGs.
Ms. Mohamed said this was the time to leverage Africa’s capacities and potential for Africa’s 226 million young people to chart a new direction with the 2030 Agenda and the 2063 Agenda as guidelines.
“As we listen to the voices of the world’s young people, the time has come to make peace with nature and this means developing a just economic model which means embracing renewable energy, green and resilience infrastructure and inclusive digitalization that protects natural resources,” said Mohamed.
Addressing the Forum, ECA Executive Secretary, Vera Songwe, noted that Africa would need to replace and rebuild a stronger and more resilient health care system following the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ECA has been working with the African Union Commission, the Africa Centres for Disease Control, Afreximbank and other partners through the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team to help African countries to secure vaccines to tackle COVID-19 with over 500 million doses having been sourced so far.
Africa seeks to vaccinate 60 % of the population to achieve herd immunity, a feat estimated to cost over 20% of GDP of most countries.
“Africa is facing its first recession in 25 years as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the related economic consequences,” Ms. Songwe said, calling for massive domestic resource mobilisation for the continent to respond to the health, climate and economic crises.
“But with the right policies and strong effective multilateral system reset, Africa can recover well from the triple crises of climate, health and economy to build forward very resilient economies.”
Urging for a reset of economic models within a transformed multilateral development framework, the ECA Chief called for an extension of Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) to beyond end of 2021 so African countries can have extra liquidity to respond to the pandemic.
For the recovery and investment in transformative green actions, we need additional issuances of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), including on-lending and the creation of more affordable financial vehicles for Africa, Ms. Songwe emphasized, pointing to the need for blended finance and opportunities for debt swaps and SDG Bonds.
Outgoing chair of the 6th ARFSD Bureau and Zimbabwe’s Labour and Social Welfare Minister, Paul Mavima, said Africa has made substantial but insufficient progress in implementing SDGs. It needs to redouble efforts, especially on goals relating to poverty alleviation, health, decent work and economic growth.
“Despite the challenges there is need for resilience in Africa in order to build forward better,” Mr. Mavima told the Forum, highlighting that COVID-19 has worsened the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063.
The biggest accelerator to the finishing line is changing the mind-sets of our people for the need to develop local solutions, he said, calling on Africans to own their development agenda and optimise resource mobilisation because Africa has the resources to achieve the 2030 and 2063 Agendas.
“Africa should use its capital and human resources to develop its own medical solutions, including production of vaccines given the vaccine nationalism that we are witnessing. It is in that regard that I call for the equitable distribution of vaccines irrespective of the political and economic considerations of a country.”
The opening ceremony was capped by the signing of a partnership framework between the Government of the Republic of Congo and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) for the creation of the African Centre for Research on Artificial Intelligence (CARIA) within the University Denis SASSOU NGUESSO.
The ARFSD is being held under the theme: “Building forward better: Towards a resilient and green Africa to achieve the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063”.
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