UNECA says impacts of COVID-19, Ukraine crisis hamper Africa's progress
Addis Ababa [Ethiopia], March 19: The devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Ukraine crisis have mired Africa's progress across a wide range of development sectors, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) has said.
This came at the expert's segment of the 55th Session of the Economic Commission for Africa Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development (CoM2023), where practical and innovative ways to accelerate inclusive economic transformation in Africa took center stage, the UNECA said in a statement issued late Friday.
Presentations by the UNECA highlighted that despite a greater emphasis on building productive capacity, boosting agriculture, food security, trade, good governance, and development, most African countries, which form the majority of the least developed countries (LDCs), have made only limited headway in transforming the structure of their economies to achieve sustainable development.
"The devastating impacts of COVID-19 and the Ukraine (crisis) on production, trade, and its wider economic and social effects have mired progress even further," the statement read.
The UNECA, however, said despite the challenges, some African countries have made some progress in various areas of action.
It said Botswana, Cabo Verde, and Equatorial Guinea have graduated from the list of LDCs while Comoros, Djibouti, Senegal, and Zambia were determined to have met the graduation standards for the first time.
There has equally been considerable progress in science, technology, and innovation, as well as in trade with the advent of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement, it said.
On renewable energy, the UNECA said the African continent is performing well, and for the first time, it is on the same line with the rest of the world in a race to explore technologies that could impact its energy security.
"While this progress is promising, many African countries still face an array of binding constraints," it said.
According to the UNECA, a lack of technological capabilities, infrastructure deficiencies, limited government capacity to implement growth-oriented structural policies, and insecurities and instabilities in areas like the Sahel have all combined to impede faster progress.
"There is no way trade or development will happen where bullets are flying. We need a nexus between security and development to ensure no one is left behind," the statement quoted Francis Ikome, chief of the Regional Integration Section at the UNECA, as saying.
As experts analyzed and sought ideas that translate into action, a set of recommendations presented highlighted the need for the UNECA to continue strengthening support for African LDCs to achieve inclusive and sustainable economic recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and the Ukraine crisis.
African countries have been urged to expedite the implementation of the AfCFTA, deepen regional integration, and increase connectivity by closing the digital divide, as well as leverage digital technologies to boost trade and grow the capacity of African LDCs to attract productive investment.
The UNECA said the recommendations can drive more discernible progress in overcoming the many structural impediments confronting these countries.
The 55th Session of CoM2023, which is underway in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, on March 15-21, is being held under the theme "Fostering recovery and transformation in Africa to reduce inequalities and vulnerabilities".