‘Africa should unite, look inward for development’

PRESIDENT Mnangagwa has called on African countries to focus on internal resource mobilisation and an inclusive pro-people development philosophy that promotes cooperation among nations to ensure balanced development across the continent to attain the “Africa we want”.

The President said this here yesterday while officially opening the 56th Session of the UNECA Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development.

Primarily, the objective of the conference is to promote the economic and social development of African member states, foster intra-regional integration and promote international cooperation for Africa’s development.

The conference, which started last Wednesday and ends today, has attracted high-level representatives from 32 countries and over 200 delegates.

It is running under the theme, “Financing the Transition to Inclusive Green Economies in Africa: Imperatives, Opportunities, and Policy Options”, which President Mnangagwa said was apt, given the complex climate-change-related challenges confronting the world today.

“As African countries, we have the weighty responsibility to boldly and decisively tackle the challenges faced by our respective economies,” said the President.

“We must look from within and among ourselves for solutions. We cannot afford to bury our heads in the sand. I, therefore, challenge you to pursue robust and innovative measures to unlock maximum benefits from our natural resources, which essentially starts with the sharing of ideas through deeper collaborations.

“Africa must build climate-resilient infrastructure to drive green industrialisation that is inclusive, sustainable, eradicates poverty and creates jobs.”

While Governments have the mandate to deal with emerging challenges, President Mnangagwa said businesses have the innovation, technology and drive to deliver on the required solutions.

Through investments in science, technology and innovation, the transition to inclusive green economies must aid in the development of technologies that emphasise on sustainability, resource efficiency and emissions reduction.

In turn, these will facilitate and accelerate improvements in the economic and social well-being of the people, said the President.

“No matter what difficulties may come our way, we must focus on a people-centred development philosophy that leaves no one and no place behind; one that builds synergies among nations and promotes balanced development across the continent.

“Together with unity of purpose, we can indeed build the ‘Africa we want’, ‘Brick upon brick, stone upon stone and step by step’,” he said.

President Mnangagwa said to fight the impact of climate change, financing instruments must be leveraged to reap maximum benefits from the vast natural resources of the continent.

Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development from across Africa, he said, should come up with alternative resource mobilisation initiatives that transform economies in line with technological developments to meet climate goals and emerging demands.

“We must think outside the box and trust in our home-grown initiatives. This should be complemented by mainstreaming the principle of green economy in policy reforms, regulation changes and strategic investments in order to ensure sustainable development that leaves no one and no place behind.

“We should, however, be mindful of the need to take account of the uncertainties and risks to future economic growth inherent to replacing the conventional economic model, with a green economy.

“In addition, African countries should take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement riding on ICTs and new technologies,” he said.

The President said the need to nurture and grow a broad spectrum of value chains that can generate green industrial development cannot be overemphasised.

He urged nations to equally promote investment in green sectors, facilitate technology transfer, develop green investment standards and encourage regional cooperation.

President Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe had been actively participating in international negotiations on climate change for some time, and was among the first countries to sign and ratify the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which was followed by Harare’s ratification of the Kyoto Protocol.

The President shares a lighter moment with African Union Commission Deputy Chairperson Dr Monique Nsanzabaganwa (left), Executive Secretary for the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Mr Claver Gatete (second from left) and Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube (right) at the Economic Commission for Africa Conference of Ministers of Finance yesterday.

Zimbabwe has since developed strategies and plans to curb the escalation of greenhouse gas emissions, said the President. 

The National Climate Change Response Strategy has also been adopted to provide a comprehensive and strategic approach to adaptation, mitigation, technology, financing, public education and awareness.

President Mnangagwa said through the five-year economic blueprint, the National Development Strategy 1, Zimbabwe is increasing agricultural production and productivity, with emphasis on irrigation development, especially among communal and smallholder farmers.

“While the climate change challenges we face remain immense, they are surmountable. We call upon the Global North to bear their burden and face up to their responsibilities by honouring their commitments in order to realise the transformations needed on the climate action agenda.

“On our part, as Africa, we should leverage on the vast forest resources we are endowed with on the continent to garner more finances for sustainable development.

“This includes leveraging on the increasing carbon markets which are expected to keep growing. Let us capitalise on collaboration as African States to mobilise resources for financing our transition towards inclusive green economies,” he said.

Global greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise as climate change wreaks havoc on nations that are least responsible for the emissions, putting a significant strain on Africa’s public finances, growth prospects and employment levels.

Africa accounts for less than 5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and has natural capital that reduces the effect of carbon emissions.

President Mnangagwa said polluting countries are lagging behind in honouring their commitments to mobilise resources under mechanisms such as the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

At COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, wealthy nations pledged US$100 billion per year to fight for climate adaptation and mitigation.

However, nothing significant has materialised since then and developing countries including Zimbabwe, Pakistan and others, continue to bear the brunt of climate change impacts.

President Mnangagwa said it was important that those responsible for the high global pollution should honour their obligations, with regards climate financing.

“Meanwhile, as Africa we remain cognisant that the movement towards clean technologies presents immense opportunities to unlock our continent’s huge natural resources and human potential.

“We must be proactive and mobilise financial resources from both domestic and international sources to facilitate the adoption of clean and low carbon technologies.

“The transition to inclusive green economies also provides opportunities for better co-operation and partnerships between governments and the private sector to forge green growth investment strategies that benefit our communities.

“In this regard, the role of public-private partnerships, as well as that of development partners must be clearly defined and promoted in order to increase the level of climate financing,” said the President.

Estimates show that to end global climate change, it would take between US$300 billion and US$50 trillion over the next two decades, which is supposed to be provided by rich countries, which are the biggest polluters.

Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube, said in the last few days, economic experts, technocrats and government officials discussed, shared ideas, experiences and policy suggestions that will guide the continent to collectively address the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead, as nations transition to inclusive green economies.

He said Africa’s economic growth remains on a positive growth trajectory with net exports, private consumption and gross fixed investment underpinning growth of the continent in the short-to-medium term.

However, Africa continued to experience relatively low growth rates, which were not commensurate with its growth potential, poverty and unemployment rates continue to rise, said Prof Ncube.

Permanent representative of Uganda to the African Union and UNECA, representing the chair of the outgoing Bureau, Ambassador Rebecca Amuge Otengo, said they navigated the deliberations at a time when the continent is facing numerous challenges including food shortages, rising debt levels and serious impacts of climate change.

She said this year’s conference of ministers provided them a “rare opportunity to develop authentic ideas” for implementation across the continent.

Ambassador Otengo called for the removal of sanctions imposed on all ECA members including Zimbabwe, which are hurting economies.

United Nations Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary of ECA, Mr Claver Gatete, said the world is “at an inflection point and countries are facing impossible policy choices with far-reaching social and economic consequences”.

“But we have chosen the theme of green transitions because, whether we like it or not, we cannot ignore the challenges of climate change and the need to respond accordingly,” he said.

Herald

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