Yaounde, 10 November 2021 (ECA) – Following its 2020 session of the Intergovernmental Committee of Senior Officials and Experts (ICE) for Central Africa, which focused on building skills and competences for economic diversification, and within the context of the Decade for Economic Diversification in Central Africa, the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), is hinging discussions of the sub-region’s next ICE session on sweeping changes needed to be made to achieve economic diversification.
ECA’s Subregional Office for Central Africa bets that a whole new movement of leaders and champions in the public sector and in the private sector, women, young entrepreneurs, academics, media personalities and civil society should be coalesced into engineering and sustaining such changes for economic diversification.
This is why the thrust of the 37th ICE session for Central Africa schedule for Brazzaville, Congo, from 6 to 10 December 2021, is on: “Fostering leadership and transformational change for economic diversification in Central Africa.”
The overall objective of the 37th session of the Intergovernmental Committee of Senior Officials and Experts of Central Africa is to thoroughly review the state of leadership and transformational change in Central Africa, identify gaps and propose to governments and sub-regional bodies, practical ways of bolstering the understanding and practice of both interlaced concepts to accelerate economic diversification in Central Africa.
Discussants of the theme will include ministers/senior civil service officials and policy advisors of governments across the Central African subregion, experts in the field of leadership and change, economists and other academic heavyweights, representatives of the regional economic communities of Central Africa (the CEMAC and ECCAS commissions and their relevant statutory bodies), representatives of UN agencies and other development institutions (AfDB, World Bank, Afreximbank, African Finance Corporation, etc.) in the subregion, private sector actors, media, and civil society leaders.
Key issues to address
Central Africa’s quest for economic diversification would come to naught without societal transformational change. But transformative leadership is a crucial missing ingredient in the pursuit of transformational change that can bring about sustainable development and economic diversification in the subregion. How does it present itself?
Governance is a crucial yardstick for transformative leaders to lead by example and pull “the crowd” for the transformational change needed to engineer economic diversification. But how can this “Governance” be demystified to show that it is a collective principle, it is not about naming and shaming, it is about context and red tape removal and it can be copied from comparators in the developing South?
Poor, unconcerned public and private service delivery is hobbling efforts at quality economic diversification in Central Africa. Only sweeping changes in leadership can engender efficient public and private service delivery. How can we break the status quo?
Formal training in just management and public administration is not enough to create the sine qua non conditions for economic diversification in Central Africa. Deliberate investments must be made in transformative leadership training to produce transformational change which supports such a diversification drive. Is this enough?
The role of youth and women are crucial in the transformational change needed to propel Central Africa in this knowledge, information and digital economy, especially with the opportunities of the African Continental Free trade Area (AfCFTA). Traditional practices which serve as barriers to contributions from youth and women towards economic diversification in Central Africa, must be dismantled with the support of renewed leadership. How can this be achieved; and what more?
For economic diversification to come to fruition, governments cannot be left alone to figure out ways of providing transformational change. The private sector, civil society, community and traditional leaders, the media, academia, industry captains, diaspora influencers and other individuals must be part of a conversational movement which co-creates irreversible transformational change. What is the right formula?
The COVID-19 pandemic has abundantly demonstrated fundamental weaknesses of Central African economies, notably their very low levels of structural transformation and economic diversification. There can be no going back to business as usual. The subregion must build forward better from the pandemic. As indicated in the UNCTAD 2020 Trade and development report, recovering better demands that the Covid-19 pandemic be treated not only as a crisis to be managed, but an opportunity to identify and address the structural barriers in the way of a more prosperous, equitable and resilient future. As such, transformative leadership and transformational change would engender the revolution in Central Africa towards building forward better to become more economically diversified and resilient.
Abel Akara Ticha - Communication Officer
United Nations Economic Commission for Africa
637, rue 3.069, Quartier du Lac, Yaounde, Cameroon
Tel: +237 222504348