The 2020 African Economic Conference ended on an upbeat note on Thursday as the continent’s policymakers, leading researchers, economists and other experts called for a united approach to beating the COVID-19 pandemic.
The meeting called on the private sector to take up the opportunity to fill the gap in declining foreign direct investments to meet the critical needs of the continent.
“Though it has been challenging, COVID-19 has given Africa the opportunity to rethink development paradigms, reimagine the future, reposition the private sector, and reassess the way we utilize technology,” said Raymond Gilpin, Chief Economist and Head of the Strategy, Analysis and Research Team, at the United Nations Development Programme. “For too long we have seen how the private and public sectors have worked in opposite directions. There is a huge opportunity to work more closely.”
Hanan Morsy, Director of Macroeconomic Policy, Forecasting and Research at the African Development Bank, said she was hopeful after the deliberations.
“Discussions during the different plenary sessions, side events, and concurrent sessions restored our confidence in an Africa capable of rising from the COVID-19 ashes, becoming more resilient and inclusive…Let us make good use of our great ideas and good resolutions and turn them into concrete actions,” Morsy said.
She said the Bank was supporting the efforts of its regional member countries to contain the coronavirus and address its economic fallout.
“At the African Development Bank, we recognize the scale and complexity of this task. African countries would gain much by not working in silos to address the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. A concerted effort from all is needed,” Morsy said.
During the meeting opened by Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde, African leaders, researchers, private sector discussed innovative solutions to ensure that the continent bounces back stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Participants rallied around a theme considered the most important and timely in the current crisis –Africa beyond COVID-19: Acceleration towards inclusive and sustainable development. Researchers presented papers on a wide array of topics related to the theme, including governance, the African Continental Free Trade Area, foreign direct investment and health.
“Overall, the 2020 African Economic Conference has provided innovative insights and perspectives on the policy challenges confronting African countries in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Bartholomew Armah, Acting Director of the Macroeconomics and Governance Division at the UN Economic Commission for Africa.
The 2020 edition of the African Economic Conference was jointly organized by the African Development Bank, the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP).