Addis Ababa 24 January 2013 (ECA) - The Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Mr. Carlos Lopes today urged member States attending the African Union Executive Council to celebrate Africa’s return to the path of growth with caution as the Continent "still faces important challenges which must be urgently and effectively dealt with.” The Executive Council is a two day meeting of Officials preceding the 20th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union, popularly known as the “AU Summit” which takes place on 27-28 January.
In his first statement to the Council since taking office as Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa five months ago, Lopes welcomed the theme of this year’s Summit,‘Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance’ underscoring that the Council, just like the Summit which it advises and supports, “symbolizes the very essence of the pan-Africanism which we are celebrating this year of the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Organization of African Unity.”
He highlighted a number of notable changes that have lifted Africa out of an “era of Afro-pessimism to a new era of Afro-enthusiasm", stating that from being unflatteringly described only a few years earlier as an open sore on the conscience of humanity, and as the hopeless continent, “Africa is now being described as being on the rise.”
He however, cautioned on celebrating Africa's rise without paying due attention to "the quality and sustainability of growth that persists, partly as a result of the massive degradation of production structures, as well as state and institutional capacities.” He said that some of these deficits, coupled with a huge number unemployed people, particularly youth, contribute to deep domestic inequality and persistent poverty and as such, current growth trends must be used as a platform for broad structural transformation.
“The world may have its own particular interest in a rising Africa, but the growth that must matter for Africans is one that is primarily anchored on their interest and concerns,” he stated.
Driving the transformative development project must be based on Africa’s priorities according to the Statement by Lopes. These he said, include the need to improve governance systems, strengthen state capacities, harness information and communications technologies, promote gender equality and mobilize the energy and creativity of Africa’s youth.
“We will have to pay attention to deepening the capacity for comprehensive, integrated development planning and long term scenario analysis,” he said, emphasizing that the two areas of focus call for bolder investments in the “collection and deployment of statistical information and data-driven evidence.”
He further underscored the need for new approaches to macro-economic policy-making and management and better interfacing of macro-economic and social policies for boosting growth and employment, which could be undertaken “without losing overall balances necessary and permissible for relative stability.”
The Under Secretary-General took the opportunity to inform the AU Executive Council of the strategic shift being undertaken at the ECA. The new vision aims to ensure that the Commission significantly contributes to the transformative agenda of Africa, “and enhances its support to member States by improving its focus and specialization.”
“Our ambition going forward is to strengthen the rigour and pertinence of the knowledge produced by the Commission to become an authoritative source of analytical insights into African development,” he said, and added that the knowledge generated will also be underpinned with robust statistics to increase ECA’s relevance as “a redoubtable source of well-considered policy analysis and insights.”
“We count on the support of our member States, whose collective will is represented by this distinguished Council and the Assembly of Heads of State and Government,” urged Lopes.
He told the Council that the ECA remained committed towards achieving structural transformation and an integrated, prosperous, peaceful Africa, which was the vision of the founding fathers of the Organization of African Unity and its successor, the African Union
“We are on the threshold of achieving these noble objectives, he said, emphasizing that ECA will be guided by the maxim, “Africa First”.
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