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East Africans discuss how to pave the way for transformative growth


East Africans discuss how to pave the way for transformative growth

East Africans discuss how to pave the way for transformative growth
Photo credit: Arne Hoel | World Bank

Industrial-led growth is an important driver in achieving national development targets. This was underscored at the 21st meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts (ICE) of Eastern Africa that opened this Tuesday at Retaj Moroni Hotel in Comoros.

Over 200 participants from 14 countries have gathered to discuss catalysts and constraints to transformative growth in Eastern Africa. Among the constraints, the lacklustre performance of the manufacturing sector was highlighted.

The three-day meeting was jointly organized jointly by the Economic Commission for Africa, through its regional office, and the Government of Comoros.

Speaking at the opening of the meeting, Mr. Djaffar Ahmed Said Hassani, the Vice President in charge of Economy, Planning, Industry, Crafts, Investments, Private Sector and Land Affairs of the Union of Comoros, said that the meeting happens at an opportune time when the Union has reaffirmed its vision to make the Comoros an emerging country by 2030.

“Growth in the region has been picking up, we can now hope put an end to afro-pessimism,” said the Vice President.

For the last 5 years, the ECA has been urging African countries to match their developmental ambitions with manufacturing and industrialization efforts that generate more employment opportunities. The meeting is set to take stock of the progress made on that journey towards transformation.

In his opening speech, Mr. Andrew Mold, the Acting Director of ECA in Eastern Africa, stressed that “the main objective of this meeting is to discuss catalysts and constraints for attaining a more sustainable and inclusive growth, and the meeting is intended to allow member states to exchange experiences to avoid the more obvious pitfalls.“

The meeting is also a platform to share best practices. The Governor of Ngazidja speaking on behalf of the Minister of Finance, Mr. Hamadi Hassani said he was pleased to bring together policymakers and experts from across the region to discuss development challenges and potential solutions. “Our country is progressing rapidly, and we are delighted that the neighbouring countries have trusted us to host such a great event,” said Mr. Hassani.

Matthias Naab, the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations System and the Representative of UNDP in Comoros, added that the meeting is a “great opportunity for the country economic integration”.

Tourism, private sector development, infrastructure and the blue economy are among the topics to be discussed during the meeting.

ECA appeals for stronger growth in Eastern Africa

The economic performance of Eastern Africa has been impressive over the past decade and a half. Yet economic growth moderated markedly in 2016 and 2017, with an average growth rate of 5.6% compared to 6.8% between 2012 and 2015.

For this reason, it is essential to unlock the full potential for economic transformation in the region, insisted the participants of the 21st session of the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts (ICE), in Moroni, Comoros.

During the first session focusing on Macroeconomic and Social Developments in Eastern Africa, Andrew Mold, the Acting Director of ECA in Eastern Africa, stressed the need to identify the principal catalysts and constraints to growth in the region. He argued that growth has been stimulated by investments in infrastructure (the level of investments in the region has increased from 22% in 2015 to 26% in 2016), and the dynamism of the services sector.

The region also achieved impressive some results with respect to the Millennium Development Goals: for instance, the poverty rate halved in Uganda and Ethiopia, while in Rwanda maternal mortality declined by 78%. Average incomes have also significantly improved. In the region, per capita income has doubled over the past decade, from 350 USD in 2006 to 740 USD in 2016.

However, growth has slowed down in recent years, mainly due to droughts that have affected agricultural production. More than 30 million people are currently suffering severe food insecurity in Eastern Africa.

The stagnating or declining share of the manufacturing sector in GDP has been limiting progress towards economic transformation and job creation. Another impediment to growth is the cost and poor access to credit for private sector development.

The ECA supports governments in the region to foster the structural transformation of their economies. The Moroni meeting is a platform to share best practices towards more efficient policies.


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