Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, September 8, 2020 (ECA) - The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), African Ambassadors and Permanent Representatives based in Ethiopia met Tuesday in their third retreat, jointly organized to discuss the think tank’s current work within the context of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The annual retreat, which seeks to deepen the consultative role of the Permanent Representatives and enhance their engagement with the Commission, focused on COVID-19, Africa’s strategy to build back better in the aftermath of the pandemic, the importance of ICT to win the war against the killer virus as well as in driving Africa’s socio-economic transformation.
The Africa Centre for Disease Control featured prominently with its Director, Dr. John Nkengasong, providing a situational update on the COVID-19 situation in Africa as well as progress being made on Africa’s coordinated response and on Africa’s increased testing capacity.
ECA Executive Secretary, Vera Songwe, briefed the meeting on ECA’s efforts to respond to COVID-19 and continued advocacy to unlock new resources to cushion the continent from COVID-19 impacts.
Ms. Songwe said that with the COVID-19 debt freeze, African nations can immediately use the resources to either shore-up their economies or respond to the COVID-19 crisis.
She highlighted, among other activities, these include the 6th Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development, the 3rd Africa Business Forum, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Pharma initiative pilot; the Africa UN Knowledge Hub on COVID-19, the Africa COVID-19 Communications and Information Platform (ACCIP); a weekly multi-stakeholder coordination meeting on Africa’s response; the global debate on Africa’s COVID-19 lockdown exit strategies and the Africa-wide macroeconomic model, among others.
“The big issue that we see when we look at this crisis is the issue of governance. We are beginning to see it manifest itself even more now with the crisis because everyone in tracking and tracing COVID resources to see whether they are being spent well or not. We need to improve,” she said.
She said technology has been crucial in the fight against COVID-19 and will even be more important in the building back better process.
“The ECA’s Centre of Excellence for Digital Identity, Trade and Economy is working hard to assist African nations to address the challenges they face. Let us use it to help digitize the continent for inclusive and sustainable growth and to transform our economies and societies,” added Ms. Songwe.
For his part, Mr. Mohammed Arrouchi, the Kingdom of Morocco’s Permanent Representative to the African Union and the ECA, said; “Despite the numerous challenges that our continent had and still has to face, it is important to acknowledge the significant progress it has achieved in the fight against poverty and in strengthening economic growth.”
He continued: “We must therefore reflect on how best to sustain this momentum in these special circumstances, and not derail from the progress that has been achieved thus far.”
Ambassador Arrouchi said the renewable energy sector will play a crucial role in helping Africa build back better after COVID-19.
Participants also discussed a new report by the ECA on facilitating cross-border trade through a coordinated African response to COVID-19; a green recovery strategy for African resilience; and upcoming ECA events and activities.
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