Lusaka, Zambia, 13 July 2017 (ECA) – A two-day bureau meeting of the Inter-Governmental Committee of Experts (ICE) for Southern Africa ended on 13 July in Lusaka, Zambia, with calls for the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) to address key development challenges such as poverty, inequality, climate change, youth employment and economic diversification in the sub region.
The meeting was aimed at reviewing the work of ECA’s Sub Regional Office for Southern Africa (SRO-SA) and that of the two RECs in the region - SADC and COMESA. Another point on the ICE Bureau meeting agenda was to explore ways in which ECA SRO-SA can work more closely with the RECs.
In his opening remarks, Malawi’s treasury secretary, Ben Botolo – who chairs the ICE Bureau – commended SRO-SA for convening the meeting and called on member states to work in partnership with the regional office to achieve its objectives.
ECA’s work on the blue economy was highlighted by Amir Kokil, Director of Economy and Finance at the Ministry of Finance in Mauritius, as an area where the SRO should focus its attention on, given the tremendous resources that can be unlocked from it. Mr. Kokil who also serves as the Bureau’s vice chair, emphasized the need for SRO-SA and the RECs to work more closely together in carrying forward the Southern Africa development agenda.
ICE serves as the policy organ of the SRO. It reviews the Office’s work programme, follows up its activities and makes recommendations on its strategic direction. The Bureau is the executive organ of ICE. It oversees the work of the SRO between ICE meetings.
During the Lusaka meeting, the Bureau’s rapporteur, Mukuli Chikuba - Permanent Secretary at Zambia’s Ministry of Finance – deplored the fact that ECA’s visibility across the continent is very low and, therefore, called on the Commission to invest more in communication and advocacy to ensure that member-states and the general public appreciate its work.
Mr. Chikuba also observed that the issue of value chains in agricultural and industrial production is an area in which member-states like Zambia require ECA’s assistance.
For his part, Said Adejumobi, Director of ECA SRO-SA, implored the Bureau to meet more regularly, take better ownership of the ICE process and drive the agenda for the sub region. He pledged to incorporate the issues raised into the SRO’s future work programme, adding, “the office will see what can be done bilaterally with member-states through technical assistance and multilaterally at a region level.”
The SRO-SA director also welcomed an invitation for the Office to brief the Africa Group of Ambassadors on its work in the region.
“This suggestion will certainly be considered and followed-up on by the office”, Mr. Adejumobi noted.
At the end of the two-day meeting, the Bureau members expressed satisfaction with the discussions and pledged their full support for the Bureau. It was also agreed that an ICE hosting calendar be developed and shared with member states.
Economic Commission for Africa
PO Box 3001
Tel: +251 11 551 5826