Addis Ababa – Mr Abdoulie Janneh, Executive Secretary, UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) on Monday said efficient and competitive private sector has vital role to play in transforming economic structures in Africa.
Janneh made the remark in Addis Ababa at the 4th AU/UNECA Joint Conference of Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, with a theme “Governing Development in Africa’’.
He said a key role in promoting economic transformation would derive a coordinative role through a well disciplined planning process.
“This means that we must move quickly to restore planning frameworks in our countries which must also be backed by competent and merit based bureaucracies. We must take this into consideration in order to govern well’’, he said.
Janneh said attracting foreign direct investment or securing official development assistance required the state to have a solid reputation for good economic management and accountable governance.
He said this must be matched by policies to stem illicit capital flows which on-going research by the UNECA showed was greatly reducing the resources available for development.
Dr Jean Ping, AU Commission Chairperson said Africa was faced with serious economic crisis as a result of high food prices, instability of foreign exchange and high fuel prices as a result of the ongoing political crises in the Middle East and North Africa.
Ping said the ongoing crisis in the North African region might likely affect the funding of the Commission as three out of five African countries providing 75 per cent funding to the Commission were in North Africa.
“Nigeria, South Africa, Algeria, Egypt and Libya provide 75 per cent of the financial contribution of the 53 member countries.
“Egypt, Libya and Algeria are all in the North Africa and are faced with serious political crises which may likely affect their contributions in terms of funding to the Commission’’, Ping said.
He said while the five countries provided 75 per cent funding of the Commission’s African budget, the remaining 48 countries only contributed the remaining 25 per cen.
“We cannot continue in that direction, or you will give responsibilities that we could not achieve because of financial constraints. We must control our independence from foreign donors and partners if we are serious about developing our continent and independence’’, he said.
Ping said there was an urgent need for economic integration in Africa that would enable the continent to achieve its developmental growth and self reliance amongst its people.
He said Africa has a market of one billion people which would grow to 1.5 billion people by 2020, hence the need to unite and have a regional mechanism capable of accelerating integration amongst member states.
“ECOWAS under the leadership of Nigeria has achieved the desired goals of regional integration through free movement of people and goods, free trade and common passport.
“This development must be studied and replicated by other Regional Economic Communities on the continent,’’ Ping said.
Mr Meles Zenawi, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, who declared the conference open, said the conference was long overdue as it would discuss a new paradigm on state development which needed to be pursued further by academic institutions, political parties and the society at large.
He said one of the biggest threats to the continued growth of African economies was the massive gap in infrastructure development in African countries.
“While the private sector has to play a significant role in overcoming the gap, the state has to play the leading and vital role in the sector.
“Three decades of waiting for the private sector to address our infrastructure has only served to widen the gap’’, he said.
Zenawi said there was a need for the public and the private sector to jointly embark on a massive programme of investment in infrastructure aimed at sustaining the limited growth achieved so far. (NAN)