Heads of state and senior policymakers are expected to share their perspectives on how to reshape Africa’s development financing models at the 2021 African Economic Conference, which kicks off Thursday.
Cabo Verde Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Olavo Correia said the conference offered “an extraordinarily important moment” to chart the continent’s development course, including ways to mobilise domestic resources, and create modern and efficient fiscal and tax systems. He said this was especially important in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Correia said it was also an opportune time to explore ways to fight tax evasion, fraud and other offences that drain resources.
The 2021 edition of the African Economic Conference is being hosted by the government of Cabo Verde in a hybrid format, in line with pandemic health guidelines. A small group of conference participants will gather in Sal, a popular tourist destination in the archipelago nation.
The rest will take part virtually. The conference is jointly organised by the African Development Bank, the Economic Commission for Africa and the United Nations Development Programme.
The partners have assembled leading thinkers, including Nobel Laureate Roger Myerson, Olavo Avelino Garcia Correia, Vice-Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Cabo Verde, Masood Ahmed, President, Center for Global Development and Samba Bathily, CEO Africa Development Solutions Group, to deliberate on the continent’s most pressing challenges.
Discussions will focus on enhancing Africa’s position in the international financial system, reimagining development financing and domestic public and private resource mobilisation in the age of the digital revolution, among others.
Africa’s economy is projected to grow on average by 3.4% this year, after the worst recession in 50 years in 2020. However, growth could be negatively impacted by the slow pace of vaccination and the uncertainty of emerging variants such as Omicron, made public last week by scientists in South Africa. The conference ends on 4 December.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has taught us that business as usual will lead to failure,” said Raymond Gilpin, Chief Strategy, Analysis & Research Team, in the UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa.
“This conference provides the space to look at innovative solutions and sustainable options that are available to financing development for African countries. During the conference we will explore 36 innovative empirical analyses that propose ways to do development differently. The 2021 African Economic Conference will provide us with a unique opportunity to contribute to a much-needed reset across Africa.”
Bartholomew Armah, Director of the Macroeconomic and Governance Division at the Economic Commission for Africa said Africa is looking to capital markets as a source of financing, taking into account how Africa’s financial structure or landscape will look going forward, with debt sustainability considerations.
“We hope that this conference will provide an opportunity for African governments to structure projects that the private sector can finance as part of the recovery process,” Armah said.
Hanan Morsy, Director of Macroeconomic Policy, Forecasting and Research at the African Development Bank, said: “Financing Africa’s development post-Covid-19 will require out-of-the-box solutions to mobilise more domestic resources, attract more private investments, and utilise external resources more efficiently. This year’s AEC will provide concrete and implementable policy recommendations on how to achieve that triple objective, by leveraging the rich and extensive experience of high-level policymakers, development practitioners, private sector actors, academics and other stakeholders who will attend the conference.”