African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development are this week set to, among others, explore and consolidate strategies the continent can use in mapping the way forward following the Covid-19 pandemic.
The discussions are slated during the 53rd session of the Economic Commission for Africa, Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development (COM2021). The annual conference started on Wednesday, March 17, with a session of experts.
The conference is timely and critical for understanding the complex socio-economic consequences of the pandemic “and for charting the best way forward under these difficult circumstances,” Amb. Tesfaye Yilma Sabo, Permanent Representative of Ethiopia to the African Union and UNECA said at the opening session.
He said: “Africa has made a robust effort under the leadership of the African Union, to grapple with this pandemic and to reduce its socio-economic impact. This was done by working with global partners and through mobilization of the African people.
“These efforts have produced commendable results, but Africa is not out of the woods yet. The current access to vaccines could be considered a good start, but by no means sufficient to make a meaningful impact.”
Africa, he added, will have to continue to work together in the spirit of Pan-African solidarity and in collaboration with global partners to improve access to vaccines and to make a difference in the fight against the pandemic.
This year’s conference is taking place in hybrid form with limited in person participation, due to measures to halt spread of the virus, at the ECA Conference Centre, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from March 17 to March 23, under the theme “Africa’s sustainable industrialization and diversification in the digital era in the context of Covid−19”.
As noted, this year’s theme embraces the need for African countries to achieve rapid economic growth through environmentally conscious industrialization and diversification while taking advantage of digitalization.
The committee of experts is meeting from March 17-19 for technical deliberations on the theme and statutory issues of the Commission while the Conference of Ministers will take place on March 22 and 23.
In light of Covid-19, one of the high-level panels will tackle managing debt and innovative finance for fiscal sustainability, and the role of the private sector, while another will look at whether Africa is ready to finance its own vaccine.