ECA and AfDB ploughing together for Central Africa’s development

Yaounde, 06 February 2017 (ECA) – A higher degree of experience sharing among development partners would make a huge difference in technically supporting the economies of Central Africa at these trying but opportune moment, say the two top officials of the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) serving in Cameroon, and, by extension – in Central Africa. Meeting recently in Yaounde to discuss pathways of jointly supporting countries of the Central African sub-region in their demarche towards structural transformation and economic diversification, Messrs Racine Kane (Cameroon Country Representative of the AfDB) and Antonio Pedro (Director of ECA’s Office for Central Africa) concurred that it has become more relevant than ever for the two institutions as well as the African Union Commission – all three of which have been operating a joint secretariat on several development initiatives –  to cooperate at very strategic and practical level to help their member States in Central Africa get round major macroeconomic challenges and forge ahead with their plans to build resilient and competitive economies and promote broad-based development.

They identified structural transformation for economic and social development, transport and trade facilitation for greater intra-Africa trade amongst the top items for joint work in the sub-region, with a great potential to make a difference on the field. After reviewing how much progress has been made in the work of the Steering Committee for the Harmonisation of Regional Economic Communities in Central Africa (COPIL/CER-AC, in French), they said it was time to go back to the drawing board and prompt States to move forward with the 12 urgent domains that had been earlier identified as areas which, both CEMAC and ECCAS could work on without duplication of efforts. These include: the free movement of persons and goods, trade issues, security issues, transport interconnectedness, energy, food security, ICTs, integration financing mechanisms, budgetary and monetary policies, environmental issues, health and a CEMAC-ECCAS consultation framework.

“Making an impact in development work is not always a question of resources but rather an issue of demarche and strategy” said the AfDB’s Racine Kane. He underscored that beyond the strategic dimensions and outlook his institution and ECA could build on regional integration, the Bank considers it vital to also work in sectors that promote inclusive growth.

ECA’s Antonio Pedro added that in line with the Vision of the new UN Secretary General, beyond economic and social transformation issues and questions of access to market and global value chains, it was important to also work into the dynamic relationships between development, peace and security (against a backdrop of conflict) and human rights to usher in a novel transformative policy mix. “And it is now crucial to elevate the dialogue on these issues with likeminded organisations so that we and the member States we serve can all benefit from that openness.”

Both personalities have met in a context where leaders of countries in Central Africa have clearly taken stock of the acute weaknesses of a development model based on the exploitation and exportation of raw materials with a new overarching discourse of economic diversification, service delivery and value addition in what they harvest for trade with the rest of the world. Messrs. Kane and Pedro considered that this policy positioning offered a unique window for both organisations to deploy integrated analysis and solutions to the problems at stake.

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