Finance indaba ends on high note

THE 56th session of the Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development ended here yesterday, with delegates resolving to do more to fight climate change, improve economic performance and restructure the global financial architecture.

The conference started on February 28, running under the theme, “Financing the transition to inclusive green economies in Africa: imperatives, opportunities and policy options”.

In his remarks, Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube, who is the Chair of the incoming Bureau of the Conference of Ministers, said discussions underlined the urgent need to transition to inclusive green economies, restructure the global financial landscape, accelerate regional integration and provide tailored support for the least developed countries (LDCs), while also not leaving behind middle-income countries caught in the development trap.

Prof Ncube said the conference took place at a time when Africa was battling rising poverty, inequality, unemployment and climate change-related events that are estimated to cost African countries 5 percent of their GDP yearly.

He added that climate change is anticipated to be one of the main drivers of migration and poverty in Africa.

To address the climate related challenges, this year’s theme of conference provided a platform to proffer strategies and actions for leveraging public and private sector investment, sustainable debt practices and innovative financing tools.

“As discussed in both the expert and the ministerial segments of our meeting, economic growth in Africa remained subdued in 2023, amid tight monetary policies, low demand for African exports and global factors such as the geopolitical tensions, leading to elevated food and fuel costs, as well as limited fiscal space,” Prof Ncube said.

“This is also being compounded by the imposition of unilateral sanctions on some African member states by the developed  world.

“The conference explored policy options that encompass reforming the global financial architecture, boosting private sector participation, exploring innovative financing tools, implementing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and fostering regional and global cooperative initiatives to drive climate resilience and sustainable development across the continent.”

But Prof Ncube said while the continent faces formidable challenges, such challenges come with opportunities to reshape Africa’s destiny, to forge ahead with bold solutions and to redefine Africa’s narrative.

He called on delegates to focus on delivery and concrete actions such as rolling out structural reforms that breathe life into economies, fortify resilience and empower effective fiscal policies; turbocharge regional integration efforts, rallying behind initiatives such as the AfCFTA and the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), and lead the charge towards an inclusive green transition, embracing renewable energy solutions and sustainable resource management practices.

“We cannot ignore the pressing need for International Financial Institution reforms to make the institutions fit for purpose and responsive to the needs of the weaker countries.”

“In this regard, we call upon the ECA to continue to provide leadership to build consensus on the continent to call for such reforms. Strengthening partnerships is paramount. We must work hand in hand with the African Union and the United Nations to advance the objectives of Agenda 2030 and Agenda 2063.

“We owe it to our countries to provide tailored support, extending transitional periods and offering post-graduation assistance,” said Prof Ncube.

With the goal of bringing Africa to its full development potential, Prof Ncube said the 2024 Conference of Ministers presented member States with another opportunity to generate genuine ideas and solutions for actualisation on the continent.

“For the year ahead, there will be a continuation of the exceptional work by the ECA. New areas of work that emerged from the discussions of this 56th session of the Conference of Ministers will be integrated into the ECA work programme – focusing on areas that will strengthen Africa’s resilience and boost its development, including tax cooperation and the focus on technology advancement,” he said.

Prof Ncube said as the incoming Bureau, they would do their best to rise to the challenge of ushering Africa into an era of inclusive, climate-friendly and people-centred development.

He appreciated the Economic Commission of Africa (ECA) Secretariat for convening the conference of African Ministers of Finance in Victoria Falls.

UNECA Under Secretary-General and Executive Secretary, Mr Claver Gatete, praised delegates for their invaluable contributions to the deliberations since February 28 when the conference started.

“Your active participation and your request to us to do more demonstrates that the journey towards building inclusive green economies is not merely an anecdote, but a pressing imperative that demands our concerted action.

“The insights shared, the innovative solutions proposed, and the partnerships forged underscore our resolve to advance economic prosperity for all Africans,” he said.

Mr Gatete said some of the achievements of the conference include building consensus on the reform of the global financial architecture to be fit for purpose, the instruments and institutions needed to bridge the technology gap and the innovative financing mechanisms that can work for the continent with the right governance frameworks.

“It is precisely because of these imperatives that the Economic Commission for Africa is reorienting its work, with particular focus on deepening our intellectual leadership on technology, infrastructure and climate.

“This will enable us to better support countries to accelerate the implementation of Agenda 2063 and the SDGs.  The resolution we adopted on tax cooperation is important in helping countries strengthen domestic resource mobilisation as we prepare for the Financing for Development Conference that will take place in 2025,” said Mr Gatete. He then praised President Mnangagwa, the Government and the people of Zimbabwe “for their warm hospitality”.

“It truly has been an amazing conference with full support of the Government of Zimbabwe,” he said.

Delegates were later taken on a sunset boat cruise on the mighty Zambezi River up to the quadripoint, a point where Zimbabwe, Zambezi, Botswana and Namibia come close to meeting.


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