Practical and innovative ways to accelerate inclusive economic transformation in Africa took centre stage in a session to review progress and set a new agenda in the implementation of the Doha and Vienna programme of action in Africa at the expert’s segment of the 55th Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning & Economic Development.
Presentations by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) highlighted that despite a greater emphasis on both programmes of action in building productive capacity, boosting agriculture, food security, trade, good governance, and development, most African countries which form the majority of the LDCs have made only limited headway in transforming the structure of their economies to achieve sustainable development.
The devastating impacts of COVID-19, and the war in Ukraine on production, trade, and its wider economic and social effects, have mired progress even further. Despite this, some African countries have made some progress in various areas of action. Botswana, Cabo Verde, and Equatorial Guinea have graduated from the list of LDCs while Comoros, Djibouti, Senegal, and Zambia were determined to have met the graduation standards for the first time.
There has equally been considerable progress in science, technology, and innovation, as well as on trade with the advent of the AfCFTA. On renewable energy, Africa is performing well and for the first time, it is on the same line with the rest of the world in a race to explore technologies that could impact its energy security.
While this progress is promising, many African countries still face an array of binding constraints. A lack of technological capabilities, infrastructure deficiencies, limited government capacity to implement growth-oriented structural policies, and insecurities and instabilities in areas like the Sahel have all combined to impede faster progress.
“There is no way trade or development will happen where bullets are flying. We need a nexus between security and development to ensure no one is left behind,” said Francis Ikome, Chief of the Regional Integration Section, ECA.
Addressing these constraints is crucial for Africa’s long-term development and will be the main driver of its transition from low- to middle- and, ultimately, high-income status. As experts analyzed and sought ideas that translate into action, a set of recommendations presented highlighted the need for ECA to continue strengthening support for African LDCs to achieve inclusive and sustainable economic recovery from the impact of COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and the war in Ukraine.
Countries need to expedite the implementation of the AfCFTA, deepen regional integration and increase connectivity by closing the digital divide, as well as leverage digital technologies to boost trade and grow the capacity of African LDCs to attract productive investment. These recommendations can drive more discernible progress in overcoming the many structural impediments confronting these countries.