Rabat, 4 March 2014 (ECA) - Now a highly anticipated event by development actors, decision-makers and the media , ECA’s North Africa Intergovernmental Committee of Experts (ICE ) has started in Rabat its 29th session on Tuesday 4 March, in the presence of Mr. Idriss Azami , Minister Delegate for Budget of the Kingdom of Morocco, Mr. Mahdi Ghanya, Planning Minister of Libya and Mr. Habib Ben Yahia , Secretary General of the Arab Maghreb Union (UMA) .
Emphasizing the relevance of the topic chosen for this year "Developing regional value chains to accelerate the diversification and sophistication of North African economies”, Mr. Azami recalled the recommendations of the previous ICE meeting on the need to enhance product diversification so that the region can better position itself in international markets, as this represents one of the main leverages of structural transformation in which the region has engaged . The Minister stressed in this regard the importance of statistics to inform policies that North Africa countries need to develop to this effect.
He welcomed in this context ECA’s new orientations, which, as explained by its Executive Secretary Dr. Carlos Lopes during his visit to Morocco in 2013, are based on the new requirements of structural transformation of Africa’s economies, and give more prominence to statistics in ECA’s action aimed at assisting member countries in formulating the national policies and strategies they need.
There is no transformation without industrialization , said the Moroccan Minister who also summarized the fundamentals of industrialization policies the region must rely on, including adequate institutional mechanisms, greater openness and partnership with the private sector, the acceleration of sectoral integration, capacity building and the operationalization of adequate governance mechanisms.
The importance of these fundamental was also highlighted by Ms. Karima Bounemra Ben Sultan, Director of the ECA’s Office for North Africa, who said in her opening speech that the region has begun to witness some signs of recovery after a sharp contraction of regional GDP ( average of 2.5 % in 2013 against 6.6% in 2012) and the persistence of political uncertainty that led to a clear depressive effect on several industries such as tourism and foreign direct investment flows. The global context which was more positive in terms of economic recovery 20014, coupled with the encouraging- though slow- progress made in the area of political transitions bode prospects that are more conducive for North Africa, she said. The region should exploit this context to accelerate growth and address such issues as job creation, all the more since the region has assets as it has been shown in the 2013 Report on Economic and Social Situation in North Africa. Among these assets, the Report mentioned human potential, the major infrastructure network available in the region, its geostrategic position, the promising potential of its intra-regional market, as well as growth prospects of the African Continent as a whole.
Harnessing these assets will be easier thanks to better operationalization mechanisms of regional integration, as has been strongly emphasized by UMA Secretary General, Mr. Habib Ben Yahia, who also stressed the importance of sectoral industrialization including that of renewable energy. This, he added, will help identify areas of partnership and stimulate an attractive regional market.
However, this would not be easy without a crucial prerequisite, as the Libyan minister of planning put it in his speech: this prerequisite is strengthening internal integration at the national level, so as to lay the premises of sustainable development, and subsequently develop a model of growth -oriented industrialization, with the help of the private sector.