The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) has concluded its annual and fourth quarter (Q4) Accountability and Programme Performance Review Meeting (APPRM) and preparation of the 2022 Annual Business Plan (ABP) under the theme: “Strengthening Accountability and Joint Planning and Delivery to Advance Impactful Interventions”.
The four-day meeting held virtually in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on December 14 – 17, was officially opened and led by the UN Under-Secretary General and ECA Executive Secretary, Vera Songwe.
Ms. Songwe said ECA is looking at how to strengthen its strategic directions (build, formulate, design, advocate, and integrate) in the context of the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres’ Common Agenda that aims to promote realization of Agenda 2030.
The Executive Secretary noted that 2021 has been a difficult year because of Covid-19 pandemic that has led to the loss of some ECA staff members and thanked the staff for their commitment on delivering their work despite the challenges.
“As an institution we are on the right track. We are proud of ourselves of what we have done. Looking forward we need to challenge ourselves on whether we are doing the right things so that we can do more and much better,” said Ms. Songwe.
A report on the Executive Secretary compact presented during the meeting indicates that as an institution ECA has made progress and is on the right track on its performance in terms of achieving the programme objectives, delivering reforms and delivering as a leader in the UN.
The session also learnt of progress made in key audit recommendations, timely completion of end of cycle evaluations and other indicators of achievement.
Said Adejumobi, ECA’s Director of the Strategic Planning, Oversight and Results Division outlined a number of key achievements, such as the launch of the Liquidity and Sustainability Facility (LSF) at COP26, the global climate conference held in Glasgow, Scotland. Through this mechanism, African governments will save $11 billion in borrowing costs in the next five years, while fostering greener investments and sustainable development.
Further, ECA had spearheaded the organization of the multi-stakeholder Africa Business Forum in collaboration with the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo and other private sector partners.
Held in November 2021 in Kinshasa, the Forum was based on solid technical analysis that will foster the development of a robust Battery, Electric Vehicle (BEV) and renewable energy value chain and market in Africa, echoing ECA’s continued push to industrialise through value addition and opportunities to improve livelihoods.
In addition, ECA made significant contributions in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic as a partner on the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) that aims to increase manufacturing and distribution of vaccines on the Continent. Other milestones include the 2021 African Economic Conference in Sal, Cape Verde, the launch of the ECA Young Economists Network and a coding camp that trained hundreds of young girls in Cameroon.
“Joint, planning and delivery is a ‘work in progress’ for ECA. There is need for more cross collaboration among the SROs on programmes like regional integration, trade, implementation of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA),” said Adejumobi.
Looking forward to 2022, the meeting articulated six possible areas of collaboration. These are: economic integration (AfCFTA); macro-economic policies (debt, macro-modeling and development planning); Private sector development; climate change; migration; data and statistics.
“The AfCFTA project needs to incorporate the free movement of persons, goods and services in its work. Without free movement of persons, trading and investments cannot be readily accelerated. Hence, ECA needs to work on this urgently, with the involvement of civil society,” urged Adejumobi.
On the issue of migration, the meeting stressed the need to recreate the narrative on the regional and global discourse from an economic perspective. “The global orthodox perspective on migration is quite negative, which sees migration as a burden, liability, and anti-developmental. Whereas migration has historically being central to human and societal development,” he said, and added that the migration project should explore intra and extra-Africa migration in the areas of labour, skills, investments, and employment in creating a new narrative.
The meeting also agreed on deepening the Commission’s work on strategic projects that are germane to Africa’s economic diversification. These include battery manufacture, renewable energy and just energy transition, and air transportation, which is important for reaping the benefits of the AfCFTA.