The Director, Regional Integration and Trade Division, Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Stephen Karingi has called on African countries to mobilize funds and other resources to put the continent on the path of industrialisation.
Karingi was speaking on Wednesday at the 39th Meetings of Committee of Experts of Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development.
The conference themed: ‘Africa’s Sustainable Industrialisation and Diversification in the Digital Era in the Context of COVID-19,’ runs from March 17 to 23 in Ethiopia.
This year’s theme embraces the need for African countries to achieve rapid economic growth through environmentally conscious industrialization and diversification while taking advantage of digitalisation.
Karingi noted that the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement could stimulate Africa’s overdue industrialisation.
He said, in addition, African countries would have to improve on infrastructure and more intra-Africa finance to achieve sustainable industrialisation.
According to him, scaling-up digitalisation in Africa can be transformational, helping the continent to industrialise and diversify within a global digital economy estimated to soon surpass 11.5 trillion dollars.
Karingi was speaking on a sub-topic, ‘Assessing the status of Regional Integration in Africa.’
He said Assessing Regional Integration in Africa (ARIA) was one of the tools for monitoring the Regional Integration in Africa, and that ECA, in conjunction with Africa Union, Africa Development Bank and UNCTAD, had continued to produce ARIA.
In the views of Karingi, regional integration remains a priority for African countries as demonstrated through various initiatives, including AfCFTA.
According to NAN, 54 African countries have signed the AfCFTA agreement and 37 have ratified it. NAN also reports that the specific topic of the AfCFTA will feature at ministerial, experts, and side event sessions as one of the particular tools available to African countries as they chart their recovery from COVID-19.
The opening session of the meeting of experts was graced by the UN under-secretary-general and Executive secretary of the ECA, Ms Vera Songwe.
Songwe pointed out that COVID-19 had exposed Africa’s overreliance on international supply chains for medical research, equipment, and pharmaceuticals.
She said one of the challenges confronting Africa was how the continent could generate its own pharmaceutical sectors and the role of the AfCFTA.