UNECA Acting Executive Secretary Antonio Pedro.

ADDIS ABABA — Amid multiple financial, health and climate crises affecting the African continent, the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) has urged African countries to introduce pro-poor and inclusive recovery efforts to foster economic transformation.

The urgent call was made by UNECA Acting Executive Secretary Antonio Pedro ahead of the 55th Session of the UNECA Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development (CoM 2023), the UNECA said in a statement issued late Monday. 

The UNECA chief said the impact of the shocks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ukraine crisis and climate change have pushed more people into extreme poverty and have increased inequality worldwide. 

“Africa is falling even further behind, with the continent now accounting for the highest proportion of the world’s poor of any region globally,” Pedro warned, emphasizing that the growing number of newly poor and vulnerable people makes it harder to close the gap between the rich and the poor. 

“Recovery efforts must be pro-poor and inclusive, with a view to fostering a new social contract that offers equal opportunity for all.

It is important that our growth does not leave anyone behind and if we do so then the social contract that is key to have stability and prosperity will be completely disrupted,” he added.

Pedro indicated that pro-poor and inclusive recovery must be deliberately incorporated in the design and implementation of policies, including by securing the input of all stakeholders such as Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in such processes. 

He said the ability of African countries to effectively tackle poverty and inequality has been severely constrained given declining economic growth, narrowing fiscal space, rising debt, commodity shocks and tightening global financial conditions. 

The UNECA chief warned that Africa faces a higher risk of missing the poverty and inequality targets set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Agenda 2063.

Nothing that the COVID-19 and the Ukraine conflict have wiped some of the development gains made in the last decade in terms of economic growth, social inclusion and poverty reduction, Pedro said Africa’s trade flows and supply chains were also disrupted.

As a result, it was pertinent for Africa to promote local solutions. The 55th Session of CoM 2023 will be held from March 15 to 17.

The Conference brings together ministers of finance, planning and economic development from African countries, governors of central banks, entities of the United Nations system and pan-African financial institutions. 

This year’s edition of the high-level gathering will convene under the theme “fostering recovery and transformation in Africa to reduce inequalities and vulnerabilities.” – Xinhua