Ministers, New Belgian Ambassador call on Vera Songwe

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, January 15, 2019 (ECA) – Executive Secretary, Vera Songwe, had a busy day Tuesday, meeting with ministers from Ethiopia and Somalia and receiving the newly-appointed Belgian Ambassador to Ethiopia.

In the separate meetings, the ES discussed cooperation with the three countries, ECA’s digital initiative, the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), poverty reduction, job creation on the continent and related issues.

First to call on Ms. Songwe was Mr. Arkebe Oqubay, Minister and Advisor to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, followed by the Belgian Ambassador and Somalia’s Minister of Planning.

The Ethiopian Minister shared with the Executive Secretary and her team a new publication, the Oxford Handbook of the Ethiopian Economy, that is set to be launched during the upcoming African Union Summit and possibly during the Conference of Ministers in Morocco in March.

Mr. Oqubay, who’s also one of the editors of the handbook, came to discuss with the ECA possible collaboration in the launch of the handbook and future publications. The minister hailed the history of collaboration between the ECA and Ethiopia, which the Executive Secretary said would continue under her leadership.

The handbook studies Ethiopia’s unique model of development where the state plays a central role, and where successful industrialization has challenged the long-held assumption that industrial policy will never work in Africa.

Following hard-on-the-heels of Mr. Oqubay was Mr. François Dumont, the newly appointed Ambassador of Belgium to Ethiopia, Djibouti and Permanent Representative to the African Union.

Mr. Dumont and Ms. Songwe discussed issues around multilateral cooperation for development, gender, job creation, Africa’s digital economy and the private sector’s role in strengthening African economies.

The Ambassador was accompanied by his embassy’s Multilateral Counsellor and Deputy, Ms. Carole van Eyll.

Then came Somalia’s Planning Minister, Gammal Mohamed Hassan, who discussed with the Executive Secretary his country’s economic agenda; Somalia’s work towards debt relief, poverty reduction, its national development plan; and the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).

The ECA is working with Somalia in its bid to ratify the agreement which needs 22 signatories to come into force. So far 16 countries have ratified. The AfCFTA is set to help increase intra-African trade by 52 per cent by 2022, remove tariffs on 90 per cent of goods, liberalise services and tackle barriers that curtail intra-African trade.

Ms. Songwe praised Somalia for some of the innovative ways the country is using to address its challenges, in particular through digital platforms.

Issued by:

Communications Section
Economic Commission for Africa
PO Box 3001
Addis Ababa
Tel: +251 11 551 5826