Monday, 4 November 2013

 Organized by the Cluster Environment, Population and Urbanization in the context of Regional Coordination Mechanism (RCM) for Africa, the African Union Commission (AUC); Description: 20131024_105604the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP); the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP); the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO),  and International Labor Organization (ILO), held a two day brainstorming workshop from 24-25 October 2013, at the African Union Commission, in Addis Ababa. The aim of the workshop was to enhance the capacities of the AUC and REC’s in mainstreaming Sustainable Development and Green Economy into regional and Sub-regional policies, strategies and programs.

Participants at the workshop gathered from various AUC Departments, such as, Rural Economy and Agriculture, Social Affairs, Economic Affairs, Strategic Planning, Information and Communications as well as from Regional Economic Communitiesnamely Inter Governmental Authority for Development (IGAD), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and Southern African Development Community (SADC).
In his statement Dr. Khalil Timamy, Head of Division of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture, AUC expressed the benefit of this training in accordance to the importance of Sustainable Development and Green Economy initiative in Africa. The continent is taking stock of the achievements of the Millennium Development Goals, and is preparing for a common position on the post 2015 development agenda, he said. 

He also emphasized the benefit of the Regional Coordination Mechanism in Africa. ‘ We are engaged on this cluster to enhance collaborative efforts from UN system in supporting African Union Commission, REC’s and NEPAD policies and strategies related to environment, population and urbanization’, he added. 

During the two days training, participants exchanged views and ideas on specifics issues like:
-          Tools for mainstreaming Sustainable Development into the regional and national planning process;
-          Monitoring and Reporting on the implementation of Sustainable Development: the role of Regional and Sub regional institutions;
-          Enabling conditions for promoting Green Economy in Africa;

Africa’s integration: economics should take precedence over politics, experts say

Johannesburg, 29 October 2013 (ECA) - In a very engaging plenary session at the eighth African Economic Conference taking place in Johannesburg, experts strongly argued that for regional integration to be effective and beneficial to the people of Africa, economic considerations must be placed above political ones. Held under the theme Regional Integration for Africa’s Transformation: Trans-Boundary Value Chains, Shared Infrastructure and Transformative Development Corridors , the session saw the participation of four panellists whose interventions were coordinated by the Director of the Macroeconomic Policy Division of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) – Mr Emmanuel Nnadozie.

According to Mr Nnadozie, integration via the routes of trans-border value chains, multi-state infrastructure and the development of corridors was obligatory for the continent. “It is no longer a question of debating the merits of integration but to ask how push the integration agenda more rapidly and with more effectively,” he noted.
Taking their turn to address the conference participants, the panellists argued on what they considered Africa’s way forward for regional integration. In the view of Mr Mwangi Kimenyi, Director of the Africa Growth Initiative at the Brookings Institute in the United States, a good business model needed to be created to inform trans-boundary exchanges on the continent. “It is difficult to integrate in a spontaneous manner, therefore there must be a well planned intervention of Governments to achieve such goals, he went on.

While harping on the missed opportunities of trans-boudary excahange between Algeria and Morrocco, Mr Slim Othmani an entrepreuer based in Algeria said it was high time Africans laid emphasis on economic rather than considerations to negotiate integration. He made allusion to the political differences that have driven a wedge between Algeria and Morocco in commercial and other border exchanges for years.
In such a dispensation, argued Mr David Kimoimo, Managing Director at Business Synergies in Uganda, it was crucial for governments to play a frontline role to guarantee food security through trans-border value chains. He said governments could better organise the agricultural sector by supporting the transformation of agricultural products to create a balance, for instance, between sub-sectors that witnessed surpluses in one country but with acute shortages in other countries.
Addressing the issue of competitiveness, Prof Fantu Cheru, a US-based academic said for integration to be effective, African countries need to completely overhaul their transport infrastructure, increase their internet connectivity, and remove customs red tape, among other things.
The session which was marked by enriching debates, all summarized by the moderator – Mr Nnadozie, paved the way for several concurrent seminars touching on national, regional and continental experiences on integration.