African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Development have pledged their countries’ support to turn the continent into a pole for global growth using the opportunity provided by developments in the global economy.

The Ministers believe finding home-grown solutions will spur the transition.

Closing the just-ended 5th Joint Annual Meetings of the AU Conference of Ministers of Economy and Finance and Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, some 50 ministers from 37 countries have therefore adopted a series of measures that their countries would need to implement to achieve the goal.

In a ministerial statement cited by the ECA, the Ministers have recognised “the opportunities, potentialities and challenges for our continent to become a pole of global growth” and commit to promote and implement “holistic, coordinated and integrated policy approaches and mixes to help unleash balanced and sustainable growth and the development potential of our countries at the local, national and regional levels.”

Although the region’s progress could either be hampered or fostered by external factors such as the escalation of the recent Eurozone sovereign debt crisis and the continuation of the global financial and economic crisis, the statement focuses mostly on “what can, and should be done by Africans themselves”.

The statement also engages countries to strengthen individual and collective leadership and capacities to grasp evolving local and global opportunities in order to speed up the attainment of development and transformation in Africa.

It urged for the promotion of mutually beneficial intra-African and South-South cooperation, including facilitating efforts towards mainstreaming the Action Plan for Boosting Intra-African Trade.

It says there is need to support measures to strengthen participation by young people and women in wage employment and widening their access and opportunities in the labour market; and accelerating measures designed to radically curb child and maternal mortality in Africa.

Focusing on the need for implementation which has often been a challenge to many African countries, the ministers undertook to accelerate the scale up and implementation of different existing regional and global commitments and initiatives that are compatible with the vision of a “transformed continent that is able to serve as a pillar of global growth”, according to the statement.

It also insists on the implementation of the Road Map and Architecture for fast-tracking the Continental Free Trade Area, as well as various ancillary initiatives, such as the Minimum Integration Programme and the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa.

Participants and experts agree that although Africa still has a number of challenges to overcome, prospects for the region are actually good enough to turn things around, especially if current growth rates are sustained for another decade or two.

By Ekow Quandzie

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