By Fatou Dahaba
The intergovernmental committee of senior officials and experts for North and West Africa began a 3 days meeting on the food and energy crisis of the two regions in Marakesh, Morocco.
The expert group meeting was brought under the theme: ‘Crisis Resilience and Development Sustainability in North and West Africa’.
The session brought together experts from the two regions to discuss, interact, share experiences and learn from each other on how to address their long-term objectives directly.
The objectives of the joint session are to discuss the drivers of crisis resilience and development sustainability in a world subject to more frequent and high magnitude crisis and suggest new and innovative public policies.
The session will allow participants to discuss and suggest short-term and medium-term responses to food-security and energy-security issues in North and West Africa that take changing regional and global contexts into account.
Participants will also discuss the activity reports and results achieved by the two Sub-regional offices, review their future work programmes and refine their strategic direction, as they relate to the development priorities of North and West African countries.
Currently the African continent is facing numerous challenges including climate change, food and security crisis, energy crisis, fertilizer crisis for farmers, all these factors are back by the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia -Ukraine conflict.
Hanan Morsy, Deputy Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa said the meeting is taking place at a critical time looking at the uncertainty around the world.
She described the period as the unfortunate economic fragmentation including the deepening country level diversion in Africa due to the war in Ukraine which exacerbated the pullout from the pandemic and the ongoing effects of climate change.
She stressed that the commodity price stock by the war in Ukraine and the pandemic has push the African region into import dependency problem.
“The choosing team of the ICSOE 2022 on food and energy security in North and West Africa with multiple crises is timely. The intention of the ICSOE meeting is to revise long time tangible solutions for the regions and the time economic recovery already experience need to be safeguard and rise in acquit and food energy in security prevented and mitigated given the higher food and energy price as well as price disrupted global value change.”
The executive secretary further states that this year’s theme exclusively does not only address the urgent crisis at hand but it also provide a unique opportunity for a major policy reset towards the development of sustainable food system while on other hand increase regional integration, intergovernmental trade, the African Continent Free Frade Agreement as well renewable energy transition.
“ Households in the region utilize more than 40 percent of their income in food. Food security situation in the continent is further aggravated by frequent and severe drought sessions. While floods in West Africa have affected around 700, 031 thousand people and may jeopardize by social and political instability.”
Alagie Fadera Director of Development and planning Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs Gambia also the outgoing chair of West Africa Bureau outline some of their achievements which includes training of 110 experts from member states and Sub-regional organization on National Transfer Account (NTA) methodology in 2021.
He said support was also provided on the operationalization of ECOWAS vision 2050 in West African countries.
“87 percent of the member states have ratify the African Free Trade Agreement except for Benin and Liberia. 13 projects were implemented to support AFCFTA in Niger, Togo, Guinea, Senegal and Burkina Faso.”
The outgoing chair added that despite the challenges exacerbated by COVID-19 and Russia -Ukraine war activities continue to be carry out in accordance with the mandate of the sub-regional office which is to support the inclusive and sustainable development of West Africa by building capacities of member states to integrate the challenges of population dynamics into national policies as well as their budgets and to accelerate regional integration using the AFCFTA.
Taieb Baccouch Secretary General of Arab Maghreb Union said Ukraine-Russia war responsible for price instability of food energy. He said the world is facing high price for food, fertilizer and fuel owing to heightened geopolitical tensions, the global economic slowdown, the growing impact of climate change and the repercussions of the coronavirus disease pandemic.
At the end of the meeting participants are expected to refine and adopt the respective reports that will be presented by the two Sub-regional Offices to draw up recommendations on policies and strategies for decision makers for formulation of national and Sub-regional development programmes. They are also expected to build upon the regional integration agenda.
The two Sub-regional Offices will each prepare a separate report on the joint session in which they will summarize the presentations, discussions and key conclusions and recommendations. These reports will be submitted to the conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, the principal deliberative organ of Economic Commission for Africa.