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Global Leaders address Aid, Trade and the Post-2015 Development Agenda

Jul 10, 2013, 11:58 AM

In a panel discussion on the post-2015 development agenda at the 4th Global Review of Aid for Trade in Geneva, the Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Mr. Carlos Lopes has told Global leaders that despite signs of improvements, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) remain, overall “unfinished business.”

“Africa appears on track with respect to achieving universal primary education and gender parity in education, but progress has been insufficient in eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, and reducing child and maternal mortality,” he stated.

The panel discussion had as its main focus, monitoring and evaluation for assessing the contribution of aid to boost the trade capacities of developing countries and thus helping them connect to global value chains.

Mr. Lopes traced this mixed progress to the failure of connecting the MDG framework to the structural transformation of African economies. He maintained that Africa’s economic growth has not brought about commensurate improvements in terms of inclusiveness, job creation and human development.

He pointed out that international trade is key to attaining structural transformation and that commodity-based industrialization “appears to be a promising avenue for taking advantage of Africa’s current comparative advantages, while promoting greater value addition and fostering backward and forward linkages.”

He argued, however, that harnessing trade for diversification requires redressing the wide array of constraints that undermine the competitiveness of African firms and as such, “the Aid for Trade initiative is a step in the right direction, though there is a need to move beyond the traditional donor-recipient logic,” he said.

Mr. Lopes contended that a renewed approach to the quest for development finance is needed: one that he stressed “must move beyond the donor-recipient dichotomy, and focus on harnessing the potential synergies and complementarities across different actors, both public and private, at global, regional, and domestic level.”

This renewed approach emphasizes domestic resource mobilization, alternative sources of development finance, and deliberately aims at stemming illicit capital flights.

The Executive Secretary also said that although the perceptions about Africa’s economic performance have changed in the last decade, much remains to be done in order to achieve structural transformation.

“We are at an important juncture, where we need to create sufficient employment for Africa’s growing youth bulge,” he said. He also called for a focus on the sustainability of Africa’s growth patterns, which have so far been largely underpinned by extractive industries and services, rather than manufacturing.

“We must “re-brand” the narrative on Africa in light of the continent’s opportunities for investments, such as through private equities,” he said.