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Africa bets on African solutions for post COVID-19 recovery

By Otiato Opali in Nairobi, Kenya | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2020-12-09 21:42

People wearing protective face masks wait in line for a taxi to get to work in Soweto, South Africa, on June 1, 2020. [File photo/Agencies]

This year's edition of the virtual African Economic Conference kicked off on Tuesday with calls for the continent's policymakers, researchers and development partners to design Afrocentric solutions to ensure Africa builds its own future in the aftermath of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The conference, organized by the Economic Commission for Africa, the United Nations Development Program and the African Development Bank, is themed, "Africa Beyond COVID-19: Accelerating Towards Inclusive Sustainable Development".

At the end of the conference on Thursday, the deliberations are expected to offer best practices from Africa and elsewhere, on how African economies can accelerate progress towards the achievement of the sustainable development goals and the aspirations of the African Union's Agenda 2063.

While addressing the conference, Vera Songwe, the commission's executive secretary, said the forum was a good opportunity for African professionals to share their analytical perspectives and findings, and more importantly, how African countries can build back and forward better, avoiding the pitfalls that COVID-19 has brought to the surface.

"To this end I trust your research pieces will provide innovative solutions and insights for policymakers. I am confident that Africa has a variety of best practices and lessons garnered from confronting this pandemic to share with the world and improve the welfare of our collective well-being in this interconnected modern space," Songwe said.

"We are looking forward to your deliberations over the next three days. In no time has it ever been more important to focus on Agenda 2030 and the goals as they are laid out ahead of us than now," she added.

In a statement read on his behalf, Akina Adesina, the African Development Bank's president, said the bank, working with regional institutions, was committed to building a resilient and forward-looking health defense system for Africa.

"The current pandemic provides the opportunity to test and improve the region's response and adaptation capacity. As knowledge of the virus evolves, Africa has to learn fast and increase its resilience, converting knowledge into policy research and the resulting operational guidance," Adesina said.

While calling for homegrown solutions to address the challenges posed by the pandemic, Sahle-Work Zewde, Ethiopia's president, urged Africa to tap into its time-honored pan-African values, in addition to solutions based on conventional analysis in responding. She also called for the inclusion of women in the recovery agenda.

"Africa's responses and plans for building back better on this COVID-19 pandemic towards a sustainable development trajectory need to have gender considerations at their core. It is with pleasure that I note that within this African Economic Conference, space has been provided for showcasing African women towards leadership and recognizing women's role as policy designers and proponents, rather than simple beneficiaries," Zewde said.

Ahunna Eziakonwa, director of the UN's Development Program's Regional Bureau for Africa, said the African Economic Conference is a great opportunity for bringing together leading economists to tackle key development issues on the continent. She added that the forum is a true place of excellence and scholarship, which over the years has proven pivotal in finding solutions for the Africa of the future.

Since its inception in 2006, the African Economic Conference has fostered dialogue and the exchange of knowledge covering various issues and challenges that have faced Africa.

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