ECA Update: Addis Ababa, 11 March 2013 (ECA) – The Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Mr. Carlos Lopes, has called on authorities in Niger, Algeria, and Morocco to support the reforms being initiated by the organization as they are aimed at supporting a coherent strategic transformation of Africa by the year 2063.
Mr. Lopes, who visited Niger from 17 to 18 February 2013, met with President Mahamadou Issoufou, as well as Prime Minister Brigi Rafini and other senior Ministers and representatives of the National Assembly of Niger. According to Mr. Lopes, the visit was aimed at informing senior officials in Niger about ECA’s new strategic orientation and allowed an exchange of views on the challenges facing the continent in the area of security in the sub-region.
“We also exchanged ideas on potential sources of alternative funding that West African countries can use to accelerate their development, including opportunities in the placement of our reserves by central banks,” he said.
During the discussions, Lopes stressed that ECA is redefining its vision to in line with the need to generate innovative ideas on development policies and socio-economic issues based on rigorous research and the production of quality statistical data.
"ECA will strengthen its role as a regional service for economic, social, demographic and environmental data in Africa and focus on sectors that are key to the transformation of the continent,” he said; and underscored that ECA aims to strengthen its relations with national statistical offices in different countries and promote the growth of a critical mass of expertise in this area.
"What ECA does, and does very well is studies, and Niger can ask ECA to compile studies on specific sectors or areas of concern for the country,” he said.
During his visit to Algeria, Mr. Lopes held intensive talks with Prime Minister, Abdelmalek Sellal, and with the Finance Minister, Karim Djoudi, and informed them of the strategic repositioning ECA has embarked on in order to better serve Africa’s transformational agenda.
He underlined the importance ECA gives to statistics and the need for the continent to build its capacities in this area, stressing that “statistics represent a real transformational tool for development” and is a priority in the "Vision 2063: Africa in 50 years", agenda, that has been prepared jointly with the African Union and the African Development Bank.
He further discussed ways to strengthen future cooperation, especially in the area of education and training, in order to help member States benefit from ECA’s technical capacity.
While in Algiers, Mr. Lopes told the media that the development of the African Center for Statistical Data, currently underway would allow for a real renewal of planning by governments. He emphasized that the availability of internally developed quality data would have “an impact on development strategies in Africa, but also on the way people will hold power accountable”.
In Morocco, Mr. Lopes held talks with several senior officials, including the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Saadeddine Othmani, the Minister of Economy and Finance, Nizar Baraka, the Delegate Minister of General Affairs and Governance, Mohamed Najib Boulif, the Delegate Minister of Budget, Idriss El Azami El Idrissi, as well as the High Commissioner for Planning (HCP), Ahmed Lahlimi. In their discussions, Mr. Lopes lauded them for “the great dynamism shown by a number of Moroccan actors in Africa, particularly in the areas of finance, transportation, and industry." They also touched on cooperation between ECA and Morocco in the area of overhauling statistical systems and boosting prospective studies in Africa.
The Executive Secretary also met with the Secretary General of the Arab Maghreb Union (UMA), Habib Ben Yahia, who briefed him on the efforts that are being deployed to strengthen regional integration, as a result of the renewed commitment of the Maghreb countries’ Governments to accelerate development and help the region benefit from its integration potential.
Mr. Lopes noted the Commission intends to adopt a more pragmatic approach which would “concentrate on mobilizing domestic resources through better utilization of financial tools”. He underscored that a holistic approach to domestic resources would require all stakeholders to refocus the debate on regional integration.