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The 8th Joint UNECA Inter-Ministerial Conference Underway

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The 2015 discussions of Africa’s development priorities are ongoing in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia at the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) headquarters, which is expected to host over a thousand people this year.

The theme for the meetings is ‘Implementing Agenda 2063 – Planning, Mobilizing and Financing for Development’. This was developed to set goals for African development. It was adopted at the 50th anniversary of the African Union last year to “optimize the use of Africa’s resources” and to “ensure positive socioeconomic transformation within the next 50 years”.

The African Hall, the Hq. of UNECA, where the conference is being held

The African Hall, the Hq. of UNECA, where the conference is being held

This week’s program includes meetings of technical experts appointed by the African Union to advise members on finance, monetary affairs, economic planning and integration, as well as the launch of ECA’s 2015 Economic Report on Africa, entitled “Industrializing through Trade”. Also on the calendar is a ‘Rebooting Open Data in Africa’ workshop convened by the World Wide Web Foundation, and another looking at recovery in Most Ebola-Affected Countries. Lastly, is the conference of African ministers of finance, planning and economic development, which convenes next Monday (March 30).A high-level dialogue which will take place on Saturday will be based on ‘Making Agenda 2063 work for African Women’, while next week’s two-day session of the ministers is expected to take the discussions further.

Gender issues will play a prominent role in the discussion, the ECA chief for equality and women’s development, Ngome Diop, told reporters. “You cannot define your macroeconomic framework without taking into account gender inequality,” Diop said. In 2013, the Joint Conference focused on industrialization for Africa’s emergence, and shifted attention in 2014 to inclusiveness and transformative development for Africa. A call was made to African countries to adopt dynamic industrial policies with innovative institutions, effective processes and flexible mechanisms to transform their economies to bring about inclusive and sustainable economic and social development.

The Conference will comprise intellectually stimulating plenary sessions, as well as round table debates and side events intended to deepen discussions on the theme. The first lecture will be delivered by the outgoing president of the African Development Bank, Dr. Donald Kaberuka, AllAfrica co-founder and executive chair, Amadou Mahtar Ba, will moderate. Ba will also preside at a ministerial panel on Sunday examining financing for sustainable development and a plenary during the ministerial on Monday examining implementation strategies for Agenda 2063. The Conference will also feature the inaugural lecture for the Annual Adebayo Adedeji Lecture Series, launched in Abuja in 2014 and the launch of the annual Economic Report on Africa, which tackles the theme of trade and industrialization.

Sandra Baffoe-Bonnie, secretary of the commission, said among the nearly two dozen side events which will be taking place at this year’s conference will be a meeting of the African Forum, an informal gathering of former African heads of state, and the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Africa, a group of leading experts from business, academia, government, civil society and international organizations, chaired by the ECA Executive Secretary Carlos Lopes and Barclay Africa CEO Maria Ramos from South Africa.