By Fatou Dahaba
The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and the Sub- Regional Office for West In collaboration with the Ministry Of Finance and Economic Affairs The Gambia, begins a three days session of the 24th session of the intergovernmental committee of senior official and experts ( 24th ICE) for West Africa, Tuesday the 9th November 2021.
The theme: Leveraging the AFCFTA Implementation to Building Forward Resilient and Sustainable Economies in West Africa in a covid-19 Era.
The session is an annual event whereby the ICE brings together high-level decision-makers from member states to discuss economic and social performances and make recommendations to member states and other development stakeholders.
This year the ICE24 event, is organized as a policy dialogue to discuss (1) the outcome of the forum of West Africa inter-governmental organization and private sector platform held in May 2021; (2) the key milestones from the regional business forum “Empowering the youth and women to Spur Africa’s Transformation Agenda organized in Sept 2021; and the outcome of the National Transfer Account International Conference held in October 2021. This meeting is also an opportunity to present a dashboard on West African countries key development performance.
Madam Ngone Diop Director ECA said the dialogue is part of platforms to discuss with stakeholders their work in addressing the imperative of building forward resilient band sustainable economies in West Africa. “ in this regard, given the tremendous opportunities the AFCFTA and the challenges associated with population dynamics in west Africa, coupled with the adverse effects of the COVID-19 crisis, achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 2063 Agenda for Africa’s aspirations for the future will require adequate policies and actions informed by knowledge generation, convening and operational initiatives.”
Among the policies required to achieving inclusive and transformational development in West Africa, she emphasized the pressing need to engage the youth, and use the policy influence capacity to empower Africa’s youth while ensuring gender balance.
She added that the country is youthful, with an estimated 60 percent of the population under 25 years of age. If this large cohort of young people cannot find decent income, this will turn into a demographic risk, a potential source of social discontentment and political instability, perpetuating the current challenges faced by the region. Appropriate measures should be taken now to unlock the huge potential of the youth, she outlined.
According to her Africa’s development challenges are enormous and require a strong partnership and political will. ‘We should collectively act together and better coordinate to ensure visible and impactful evidence-base results. This is our call, and the essence of this meeting is to seek your constructive- professional feedback as Experts and your support as policy makers to make these initiatives work for our subregion, and the African continent.’
The deputy permanent secretary ministry of finance and economic affairs Mrs. Juldeh Ceesay said the world today is living in very unprecedented times, with the COVID-19 pandemic affecting every aspect of our lives. She said the pandemic which first started as a health crisis, quickly evolved to a social and development crisis restrictions in movement of goods and people, the general slowdown in economic activities and disruption in global supply chains, the disruptions in the educational systems, both formal and informal sector activities affected our economies in various dimensions.
At the Sub-regional level, the health impact of the crises in terms of fatalities is not as severe compared to other sub-regions, however, it has led to far reaching economic and social consequences, which are further amplified by the high inequality and weak social protection systems.
DPS Ceesay went on saying that the AfCFTA is an important vehicle for realizing the Pan-African vision of regional economic integration and structural transformation of Africa’s economy. Thus, when effectively Implemented, the AfCFTA has significant potential to serve as a catalyst for Africa’s post-pandemic recovery, she further explained.
More than one and a half year after the world Health Organization (WHO) declare coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic as a global health emergency on 30 January 2020, the entire world is still struggling to mitigate it’s devastating effects. The Covid-19 pandemic has massively damaged every facet of society from economic repercussions to health, poverty, and other social aspects.
In terms of it’s economic effect, the pandemic has resulted in severe global recession with disparate impact within and across countries ( Barrett et Al., 2021). The global economy contracted by as much 3.1 percent, while more than 95 million people were estimated to have fallen below the poverty linein 2020 (IMF, 2021). The Covid-19 pandemic has also brought about a colossal damage to human life, with about 4.5 million deaths worldwide as of mid August 2021.