African leaders call for increased ownership and continental integration at the Conference of Ministers in Addis Ababa
Financing transformation, common Africa position, data revolution and private sector funding take centre stage
Addis Ababa, March 30 (ECA-AUC)
Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Desalegn and Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda joined Carlos Lopes, Executive Secretary, UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Chairperson, AUC, and Mr El Moctar Djay, Minister of Finance, Mauritania in the opening of the Conference of Ministers 2015 at the UN conference centre in Addis Ababa.
There was a strong call for action to the ministers of finance present for policy makers to do more to push for industrialisation. For this they called for more integration, less dependent on others and more ownership of our project. This was in line with the AU's Agenda 2063 vision and action plan, and a need for a common African position leading up to the third Financing for Development conference, COP21 and the Post-2015 social development goals.
A unified Africa requires urgent collaboration towards regional integration and the political will to make it happen, announced, President Kagame in his keynote address. Highlighting the importance of self reliance and better use of domestic resources, he said, “This gathering is a good starting point if we use it wisely to determine where Africa goes next. There is value in once more reviewing the plans to see why we are not there yet in achieving the consistent results we want. Building new momentum requires that we stop thinking about development as something we do with external resources. We must focus on making better use of what we already have, domestically, in terms of our national and regional markets.”
Reiterating the sentiment, P.M Dessalegn said that financing transformative development agenda will require substantial levels of resource. “To do so, it is imperative that available resources are used more effectively and strategically to catalyze additional financing from official and private sectors.”
“Agenda 2063 will require substantial financial resources and we must look into domestic sources to fund this. I am sure that Africa has untapped public and private resources that should be sufficient to meet the needs. If we want to sustain the remarkable economic growth recorded in the Continent over the past decade, increased reliance on domestic resource is absolutely necessary and domestic resource mobilization (DRM) should get the first priority and greater attention in our discussions here and then after.”
Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Chairperson, AUC, called for a skills revolution to make the Agenda 2063 work. She said, “A lot of people say that Agenda 2063 is too ambitious, however, a childhood friend of mine once said that ‘a person who is not ambitious is a danger to society’. Our people are the ones that will drive the agenda, so we need to invest in our people. Africa is rich, but the Africans are poor. We have abundant human, mineral and natural resources and arable land – so why are we poor? We need to shift our focus to STEM areas (e.g. Ethiopia) where the skills revolution has been critical – it is critical to Agenda 2063.”
Meanwhile, Mr. Lopes, Executive Secretary of the ECA, highlighted the need to link industrialization to trade to meet the needs of Agenda 2063: “While the last 15 years have seen relatively high levels of growth driven by a commodity super-cycle and strong internal demand from a growing middle class, Africa is still dependent on commodities for most of its export earnings. There is now broad consensus that, without diversified economies, Africa will remain prone to exogenous shocks and trapped in the paradox of high growth rates, coexisting with high levels of unemployment and extreme poverty.”
He revealed, “The key factors constraining trade and industrialization in Africa are related to Africa’s narrow production and export base, which is dominated by low-value products such as raw materials and primary commodities. This is compounded by very high trade costs, tariffs and non-tariff barriers to intra-African trade and Africa’s access to international markets. We have no alternative but to increase our share of global exports. While in the 1970s, Africa accounted for 4.99 per cent of world trade and East Asia 2.25 per cent, by 2010, we had regressed to 3.33 per cent, while East Asia had soared to 17.8 per cent. Limited by poor infrastructure and inefficient logistics, lack of adequate skills and quality inputs, insufficient provision of credit and financial services, ours has become a story of lost opportunity. The time has come for us to awake. Africa’s current trade policy plays a major role in our inability to excel.”
The session concluded with a rallying call from President Kagame, where he urged the room to develop a sense of urgency. He said, “We have decided where we want to be on 50 years time. We seem to have everything we need to achieve a Agenda 2063, except a sense of urgency.”
African Union Commission