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ARFSD2021: Regional & continental integration crucial for Africa’s recovery from COVID-19

3 March, 2021
ARFSD2021: Regional & continental integration crucial for Africa’s recovery from COVID-19

Brazzaville, Congo, March 03, 2021 (ECA) - Regional and continental integration should be at the heart of Africa’s economic recovery in the post COVID-19 era, an Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) meeting on partnerships held on the sidelines of the ongoing 7th African Regional Forum for Sustainable Development (ARFSD) heard Wednesday.

Speaker after speaker re-emphasised the importance of strong global partnerships to ensure the attainment of the sustainable development goals. Inclusive partnerships were important at the global, regional, national and local levels, especially now when the global economy continues to contract due to COVID-19.

Panellists emphasized the importance of regional and continental co-operation if economic progress was to be achieved, allowing Africa to build back and forward better in the aftermath of the deadly pandemic.

Most African countries do not have sufficient domestic resources and fiscal space to adequately fund their COVID-19 response and recovery measures. International cooperation and external finance are therefore critical. Diaspora remittances, a huge source of resources for the continent, have decreased due to the pandemic.

Congo Brazzaville’s Franco Corneille said with diaspora remittances falling, there was need for concerted efforts from the continent to also look inward and increase domestic resource mobilisation. Congo registered a 19% reduction in remittances in 2019 and fears the trend might continue as the pandemic continues to wreak havoc across the world.

“There is also need to establish regional co-operation to close the gap created by the absence of markets overseas which have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and closure of borders,” Corneille said.

In an address the previous day, Bartholomew Armah from the Economic Commission for Africa said remittances from the diaspora had dwarfed Official Development Assistance and called on African countries to harness remittances and channel them for infrastructure development.

According Jose Carbajo of the World Bank, diaspora remittance flows to African countries dropped by 23.1% from $ 48 billion in 2019 to $37 billion in 2020 in the wake of the Covid-19 induced economic crisis.

The wealthiest countries, including the United States, France, United Kingdom, Italy and China, who account for up to a quarter of all funds remitted to African countries, were the worst hit by the pandemic.

Migrants in the diaspora have lost jobs and taken pay-cuts amidst the coronavirus outbreak and subsequent lockdowns leading to the drastic fall in remittances.

In the COMESA region, the leading recipients of remittances during 2019 were Egypt (US$ 26,791 million), Kenya (US$ 2,819 million), Tunisia (US$ 1,912 million), DR Congo (US 1,823 million) and Zimbabwe (US$ 1,730 million).

Panellists also spoke on the need to increase intra-African trade, in the wake of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

The UN’s Talla Kebe talked about cooperation in migration issues, with the southern route to South Africa, the eastern route to Yemen and Saudi Arabia and northern gateway to Europe through Libya being the most popular.

Investment in technology would enable countries to curb financial crimes across borders, the panellists also agreed.

Issued by:

Communications Section
Economic Commission for Africa
PO Box 3001
Addis Ababa
Tel: +251 11 551 5826