Regional integration top priority as African ministers meet

(Last Updated On: January 25, 2023)

BUSINESS REPORTER

African ministers of Finance and Economic Planning meet in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in March to review the state of economic and social development in Africa as well as progress on regional integration.

The 55th Session of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development (CoM2023) will be held from March 15 to 21.

The Session, a statutory meeting of the ECA, will review the state of economic and social development in Africa as well as progress on regional integration.

CoM2023 will be convened under the theme, Fostering recovery and transformation in Africa to reduce inequalities and vulnerabilities.

A preparatory meeting of the Committee of Experts of the Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development will precede the 55th Session followed by the ministerial segment of the Conference which will deliberate on the development agenda of Africa on the back of a raft of economic and political challenges facing the continent.

Despite high growth rates in the past two decades, which have reduced poverty levels in Africa with the share of the population living in extreme poverty decreasing from 55 to 35 percent between 2000 and 2019, 667 million people still live in extreme poverty in 2022.

ECA’s acting Executive Secretary, Antonio Pedro, said global shocks are turning millions of vulnerable people into the continent’s new poor, reversing decades of progress, citing that the Covid-19 pandemic has pushed an additional 55m Africans below the poverty line.

Pedro said even when growth rates were high in Africa, everyone did not benefit equally. For example, between 2004 and 2019, the top 10 percent of wage earners received about 75% of total income.

High inequality, along with high levels of poverty, creates a vicious cycle in which structural bottlenecks persist, rendering the population in Africa perennially vulnerable to both economic and non-economic shocks.

“The ability of African countries to effectively tackle poverty and inequality is now severely constrained given declining economic growth, narrowing fiscal space, rising debt, commodity shocks and tightening global financial conditions,” Pedro said, adding that “The risk of missing the poverty and inequality targets set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want, of the African Union, is higher than it has ever been before.”

The 55th Session of the Commission aims to renew focus and action on reducing poverty, inequality and other factors that have left the African population continuously vulnerable to these scourges.

Pedro said the recovery efforts must be pro-poor and inclusive, with a view to fostering a new social contract that offers equal opportunity for all.

Considerable opportunities to reach these goals exist on the continent and beyond, including through activities carried out under the African Continental Free Trade Area, green investments, digital transformation, and reforms to the global financial architecture, he said.

 

 

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