Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, May 19, 2018 (ECA) – The Economic Commission for Africa’s revised strategic framework for 2018-2019 was endorsed by the just-ended 51st Session of the Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development that was held in Addis Ababa.
ECA Executive Secretary, Vera Songwe, presented the revised strategic framework of the organization to the meeting.
She said the reforms will see the elevation of the ECA to a think tank worthy of the continent and one that is well-placed to support Africa’s growth and prosperity aspirations, adding the 60-year old institution was now working more on governance issues.
The framework summarizes the outcome of recent ECA reforms and articulates the Commission’s vision, overall objectives and programmatic focus.
The institution will concentrate on five strategic areas:
· Advancing ECA’s position as a premier knowledge institution that builds on its unique position and privilege to bring global solutions to the continent;
· Building sustainable development solutions to accelerate Africa’s economic diversification and industrialization;
· Creating innovative solutions to finance sustainable infrastructure, human, physical and social for a transforming Africa;
· Contributing solutions to transboundary issues, with a focus on social inclusion; and
· Developing regional solutions as a contribution to global governance issues, as well as building knowledge to advocate for and manage Africa’s next-generation challenges.
In her opening speech to the meeting, whose theme was ‘African Continental Free Trade Area: Creating Fiscal Space for Jobs and Economic Diversification’, Ms. Songwe said a new division focusing on the private sector was being created. The division, she said, should be able to answer and respond to member States’ requests about how the private sector can be brought into the discussion and implementation of the AfCFTA.
“After all, the CFTA is about trade, it’s about manufacturing. It is essentially about getting the private sector to get our youth to work. We want to ensure that we create the right environment for this to work,” she said.
The ECA Chief said the first strategic direction she was taking was ‘retooling the staff of the ECA to be able to move into the new pan African environment where we will be talking about capital markets, artificial intelligence, new technology, how can Africa increase its productivity using these new tools in the market to leapfrog’.
“We don’t necessarily need to go at the pace of East Asia. We can do faster, we can do better and the ECA is retooling itself for that,” Ms. Songwe said.
She said Africa needs to innovate and find new ways of financing its growth and development and ensure that the youth have hope and prosperity on the continent. The ECA will be helping member States to do this.
Ms. Songwe said there was a lot of talk about Africa and what Africa was doing and not doing. But, she added, the continent needs global advocates.
“We need to be able to advocate for Africa. On the global stage, at the G20 at the IMF at the World Bank, at the G7. And the ECA is positioning itself to have a position to talk, particularly about illicit financial flows and that goes back to the question of anti-corruption,” she said.
“We know on the continent and from the Thabo Mbeki report that we cannot fight corruption alone. We need our partners on the continent and without, to support us. So, hopefully, the ECA can also be an advocate for the continent’s issues.”
The meeting was attended by Africa’s finance, economic and planning ministers as well as Central Bank Governors.
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