Addis Ababa, 25 January (NEPAD): African countries must set very high economic growth targets for themselves in order to get out of poverty, the Chief Economic Adviser to the Ethiopian Prime Minister, said in Addis Ababa today. The continent cannot depend on the rest of the world to escape being the world’s poorest continent, Ambassador Newai Gebreab, said at a steering committee meeting of the NEPAD Agency over which he presided today.
“It is very important that we set our targets as high as possible,” he added, saying Africa’s growth rate should be in double digits, above the five or seven percent annual growth it is currently recording, he said.
To ensure such a robust expansion, Africa would require a strong and visionary leadership, according to Prof. Emmanuel Nnadozie, a director at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). Prof. Nnadozie, who is Director in charge of the Commission’s Economic Development and NEPAD Division, said the growth required must be sustainable, be able to create jobs for African youths and preserve the environment. He also praised the Ethiopian government for ensuring an annual growth rate of more than 10 percent. “It is good news for Africa,” he said.
On its part, the NEPAD Agency, the technical body of the African Union, plans to consolidate collaboration with African countries and regional economic communities this year to fast track development projects, Chief Executive Officer Dr. Ibrahim Mayaki said at the meeting. To achieve this, the Agency will renew and actively engage in dialogue with NEPAD National offices and focal points in various African countries, said Dr. Mayaki. Among other things, the body has in the last 10 years helped African countries in improving the agricultural sector through the work of its AU-NEPAD Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), according to Dr. Mayaki.
“Ten countries registered annual growth rate in agriculture of at least 6 percent in the second half of 2011, 8 countries had reached and surpassed the 10 percent budgetary allocation target, while 9 were in the 5 percent - 10 percent range,” Dr. Mayaki indicated. Great strides were also made in other areas, including gender, climate change, integration and infrastructure, capacity development he said, adding, “The outlook for performance for 2012 is brighter.”
As the policy-making body of NEPAD Agency, the steering committee at the two-day gathering ending today, considered the agenda for the NEPAD Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee meeting taking place in Addis Ababa on January 28, 2012. The Orientation Committee meeting will be followed by the 18th AU Summit from Jan. 29 to Jan. 30.
The NEPAD Steering Committee is currently co-chaired by Ethiopia and Equatorial Guinea. It comprises representatives of the 20 African leaders who are members of the NEPAD Orientation Committee, regional economic commissions, the African Development Bank and other UN agencies.