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ECA calls for enhanced partnership to address economic challenges in Africa

Addis Ababa March 21, 2023 (FBC) – Development experts have warned that persistent poverty and inequality are likely to undermine prosperity, peace and security in Africa unless governments embark on innovative and people-entered development models, according to United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

“It is becoming increasingly unlikely that African States will achieve many of the targets set out in the Sustainable Development Goals by the 2030 deadline,” said Hanan Morsy, Deputy Executive Secretary and Chief Economist, Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

In light of this, the ECA hosted a round table discussion at the 55th Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development (COM 2023) in Addis Ababa for experts to brainstorm and recommend actions to help member states lessen their economic and social vulnerabilities and inequalities.

Harvesh Seegolam, Governor of the Bank of Mauritius, explained the COVID19 pandemic that hit in 2020, his country’s tourism sector and measures taken by his government including making the Mauritius Central Bank an independent institution.

“The government introduced moratoriums to support targeted sectors; introduced line up credit,” said Seegolam, adding that the government also created the Mauritius Investment Cooperation, which operated independently from the central bank, and had independent audits to ensure money invested would benefit the bank.

Ethiopian minister of finance, Ahmed Shide, on his part said that Ethiopia like any other African country was affected by overlapping shocks of Covid19, the Ukraine-Russia war, conflicts and drought – and that the country’s response included a combination of fiscal and monetary policies.

Precautionary measures, he said, were put in place to contain the Covid19.

He added the government postponed personal income tax payment, rescheduled bank loan repayments, gave tax amnesty to different sectors, boosted local food production through the cultivation of more land, and boosted meat production.

Ahmed also stated Ethiopia’s measures that embarked on more irrigation activities, and expanded Ethiopian airline as well as digital payment systems to ease transactions.

The minister of finance and budget for Central African Republic, Hervé Ndoba, said the country has been facing fuel scarcity, high cost of transport for commodities mainly because it is a landlocked country.

“To address these challenges, the government created a dry port with warehouses for importers, put in place custom levies to limit import inflation. Specifically, the government created a custom base to leverage on production costs and adjusted the fuel pump prices,” said Ndoba.

Acting Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Antonio Pedro, said Africa is falling further behind other global regions and now accounts for the largest share of the world’s poor due to increased poverty and inequalities. As a result, many African countries are facing declining revenues, rising debt stress and constrained fiscal space, all of which limit their capacity to respond to economic crises. He said partnerships are key in addressing the African challenges.

“During the pandemic, ECA worked with finance minister to find solutions to counter the effects of the spread of the disease in their respective sector, helped African countries access vaccines for its citizen,” noted Pedro.

By: Yonathan Yoseph

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