President billed for Economic  Commission for Africa Conference Delegates at the Uneca Finance Ministers’ meeting

Leonard Ncube, [email protected]

PRESIDENT Mnangagwa is expected to officially open the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) Conference of Finance Ministers here on Monday where he will share his insights with international delegates on the need to scale up collaboration in the continent to unlock wider economic potential and trade gains. 

Zimbabwe is hosting the 56th Session of the UNECA Conference of African Ministers of Finance, which started yesterday and will run until Tuesday under the theme: “Financing the Transition to Inclusive Green Economies in Africa: Imperatives, Opportunities, and Policy Options.” 

Speaking on the first day of the event, Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube, who chairs the platform this year, commended UNECA’s support towards the development of Africa over the years, especially in supporting African Union member states in the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement. 

“This conference offers an important platform for African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development and Central Bank Governors to converge and exchange ideas, experiences, and knowledge,” he said. 

“This year, this esteemed gathering provides us an opportunity to foster greater understanding and collaboration among African ministers of finance, ICT, trade and industry, and environment on the theme of our conference. Implementation of this important theme requires a whole Government approach.”

Promoting the economic and social development of African member states, fostering intra-regional integration, and international cooperation for Africa’s development is at the centre of the high-level gathering. 

Prof Ncube said there should be a balance in the growth of resources, technology, and population for the continent to grow, saying it was unfortunate that Africa is not leveraging its resources including land. 

He said the continent has around 127 million hectares of potentially irrigable land of which only around 13 percent is being used for irrigation. 

“We have vast water bodies to irrigate our rich soils, all we need is investment in advanced irrigation technology and enough funding to climate-proof agriculture so that we become food-secure. Financing the transition to inclusive green economies comes with a cost and we need to finance this transition with the support of the international community and promoting investment in renewable and environmentally friendly sources of energy,” said Prof Ncube. 

“It is high time we join hands as a continent and strengthen our existing regional trading blocs, such as the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), to promote the free movement of goods and services within Africa. 

“I call upon all member states to remove barriers to all entry and exit points                                                                                                           so that we create a single market for our goods and services that promote intra-African trade, as well as industrial development.”

Prof Ncube said the AfCFTA will make Africa more competitive in the global economy, create jobs, and increase economic growth across the continent.

He called for an urgent domestic resource mobilisation towards financing the transition to inclusive green economies as it helps to mobilise private sector investment in climate change mitigation and adaptation projects. 

“As you are aware, Africa has limited fiscal and monetary policy space to respond to shocks and is often highly dependent on international financial institutions. For example, during the peak of COVID-19, countries were given Special Drawing Rights by the International Monetary Fund. 

“However, poor countries particularly African countries received a very small share by design even though they were the most vulnerable,” said Prof Ncube. 

“It is worth mentioning that African countries are growing and geo-political tensions and the impact of climate change, have all posed a financial impact on the continent. 

“Therefore, the continent needs additional financing mechanisms to meet this growing demand. The emergence of non-traditional lenders in recent years has also complicated the debt resolution process.”

Citing the adverse impacts of climate change, the minister called for concerted efforts for rapid and deep emissions trimming by developed countries and accelerated actions to adapt to climate change.

There is also a need for the continent to come up with an African Common Position for the summit of the future, a future where Africa has an integral part and plays an important role in the transition to a greener and more sustainable world, said Prof Ncube. 

Speaking at the same platform, UNECA deputy executive secretary Mr Antonio Pedro said the continent faces disproportionate burdens and risks arising from climate change-related events and patterns. 

These include prolonged droughts, devastating floods, and out-of-season storms – all of which cause massive humanitarian crises and deepen our economic vulnerabilities.

“The frequency of these natural disasters reminds us that we are living in an unprecedented era in human history, characterized by critical social and environmental issues,” he said. 

“For these reasons, we must accelerate the adoption of just and sustainable transitions, which require long-term structural changes and adequate investment.”

He challenged member states to actively transform by transitioning into inclusive, low-carbon, and resource-efficient economies and transforming food systems to address hunger, post-harvest losses, and widespread malnutrition.

You Might Also Like