Strengthening Partnerships Key to Accelerating Africa’s post-COVID-19 recovery efforts and addressing emerging challenges

International Strengthening Partnerships Key to Accelerating Africas post-COVID-19 recovery efforts and addressing emerging challenges
MAR 28, 2022 LISTEN

At the conclusion of a virtual Ministerial Meeting held on 26 and 27 March within the framework of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD), senior government officials from Africa and Japan agreed that strengthening international partnerships is key to accelerate robust, sustainable and inclusive development, as the continent begins to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its economic and social progress.

Japanese and African ministers present at the meeting, and other high-level officials, noted that for the first time in 25 years, Africa is experiencing a devasting recession after nearly three decades of relatively consistent development gains. The socio-economic shocks sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic brought Africa’s GDP to fall by over 3% in 2020 and plunged more than 40 million Africans into poverty.

“The COVID-19 pandemic starkly highlighted that the economies focused on exporting raw materials are extremely vulnerable to external shocks, as well as damages their ecosystems,” said Ms. Ahunna Eziakonwa, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Regional Director for Africa, during the Ministerial Meeting.

“We are concerned about the ongoing war in Ukraine, which could further increase food insecurity, slow down economic growth, cause macroeconomic instability, affect democratization and undermine peace across Africa,” she remarked. “Partnerships are beneficial to all, and working closer together is the only way forward. No region, no country in the world can be resilient on its own.”

Three key areas to support Africa’s development plans in a post COVID-19 era came under the spotlight during the ministerial discussions: achieving sustainable and inclusive growth to reduce economic inequalities; achieving sustainable and resilient societies based on human security; and building long-lasting peace and stability.

High-level participants acknowledged the importance of promoting private investment by focusing on businesses that solve social issues through innovation, such as digital transformation, as well as greater emphasis on energy transition as well as developing the ‘green’ and ‘blue’ economies in Africa.

Ms. Eziakonwa noted that the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement is a key instrument that can potentially boost intra-African trade by up to 33% and cut the continent’s trade deficit by 51%. “Maximizing its potential could unlock significant growth opportunities, provide the chance for countries to diversify their economies, scale production capacity and widen the range of manufactured products made in Africa,” she said.

Turning to the myriad impacts of the pandemic on African societies, including increased malnutrition, deepening food shortages, and the toll the pandemic has taken on already fragile health systems, participants stressed that resilient and sustainable societies should be seen within the concept of human security, with a view to achieving universal health coverage. Given current projections of population growth on the continent, strengthening health systems is paramount. In this regard, Japan’s efforts toward equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines in Africa, including its vaccine provision and financial contribution to COVAX facility, was highly appreciated.

Highlighting continental efforts to bring about lasting peace and stability, participants underscored the need to address the root causes that hamper the achievement of long-lasting peace and stability in Africa. The consolidation of democracy and good governance under the rule of law remains a pressing priority, as well as increased efforts to build institutions and capacity.

Co-organized by the Government of Japan, the United Nations Office of the Special Adviser on Africa, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) the World Bank, and the African Union Commission, the two-day high-level meeting served as an important step ahead of the 8th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD8), which will take place on 27-28 August 2022.

For nearly 30 years, the Government of Japan through the TICAD process has contributed to mainstreaming human security and human-centered approaches to development. TICAD has grown into a major forum on African development and has been a pioneer in advocating for the importance of African ownership and international partnership to address the continent’s developmental challenges.

“The upcoming TICAD8 Summit will be an ideal opportunity for African leaders and their counterparts from Japan to scale-up existing partnerships by building a stronger, smarter, fairer, and more sustainable Africa,” concluded Ms. Eziakonwa.

Source: UNDP

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