Africa must lead the charge in mobilising domestic resources to recover from multiple economic and social crises which have deepened poverty and widened inequality on the continent, says the acting Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Mr. Antonio Pedro.
Pedro, who made the call in a statement on Thursday by the Communications Session of the ECA, also warned that Africa risks missing the Sustainable Development Goals.
Pedro was addressing participants at the 41st meeting of the Committee of Experts, ahead of Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, holding in Addis Ababa.
The ECA chief reminded the participants that: “Africa currently leads in global poverty.”
Pedro cautioned that without bold financial and climate action, Africa would be locked into a poverty trap.
“With more than half of the world’s poor – 54.8 percent in 2022 being in Africa, the continent had overtaken South Asia with 37.6 percent.
“COVID-19 outbreak had pushed 62 million people into poverty in just one year, with an additional 18 million estimated to have joined their ranks by the end of 2022.
“As many as 149 million non-poor remain at high risk of falling into poverty,” he said.
Pedro noted that 695 million people in Africa were either poor or face the risk of falling into poverty.
“Women and girls remain particularly vulnerable, and we are facing a potential reversal of the hard-won gains made on gender equity.
“Africa cannot just stay the course and hope that it gets better. It must lead the charge,” Pedro said.
He said the challenges were, however, not insurmountable if Africa could implement systemic change and build resilient and sustainable systems, shifting away from a primary focus on efficiency that had dominated past decades.
Pedro said investments in sustainable building up capital in critical assets including human, infrastructure, and natural resources were needed to provide an environment that could facilitate achieving the ambitions of the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063.
“Therefore, governments must design strategies that simultaneously integrate economic, social and environmental objectives.
“First, we need to finance our development,” Pedro said.
He emphasised that getting the macroeconomic fundamentals right could unlock the potential of home-grown solutions.
“Nonetheless, Africa needs a fairer and more just global financial architecture that responds to its needs.
”Many countries currently cannot access international financial markets because of rising interest rates and unworkable existing debt relief mechanisms,” he said.
He noted that Africa must aggressively pursue sustainable industrialisation and economic diversification to transform its natural resources into tangible benefits for its people, explaining that the battery and electric value chain development was a case in point.
“Put simply, our wealth in natural resources must work for the majority, not the few. To get to this point, we must be intentional in our approach,” Pedro said.
He cited that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) could increase intra-Africa trade.
“We must take center stage on climate action. While we cannot overlook the fact that we are disproportionately suffering on impact and financing alike, we have significant opportunities to rebalance the scales on climate finance,” he said.
Pedro noted that Africa rainforests and the development of its carbon markets, for instance, could unleash an estimated 82 billion dollars a year, in value at 120 dollars per ton of CO2 sequestered, and create 167 million additional jobs.