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Africa should unleash its immense natural resources to pursue sustainable economic growth and development, participants at the African Economic Conference said at the end of the event on Friday in Addis Ababa.
Africa has sustained a decade of solid progress, including impressive rates of economic growth. But the region faces the daunting task of making growth more broadly shared, creating employment and sustaining human development, in a sustainable way.
This would mean creating resilient, low-carbon economies, which would not only help contribute to global climate change mitigation efforts but generate economic and business opportunities, including new employment, and boost trade for the benefit of all Africans. ”Making the growth process more inclusive and sustainable are two objectives that must go hand in hand,” said Tegegnework Gettu, Director of UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa.
To achieve green growth, the region must begin to invest in renewable and clean energy projects and programmes. It must also make sustainable use of its natural resources such as land and forests and capitalize on new opportunities to promote sustainable agriculture. Initiatives to mobilize carbon credits by slowing down deforestation and forest degradation are already underway and paying dividends.
To achieve those objectives, Africa will need access to financing, technology and capacity-building.
“African economies need better access to various sources of international funding. It will help them create more sustainable economies and promote green and inclusive growth in the entire continent,” said Mthuli Ncube, Chief Economist of the African Development Bank. The AfDB and its partners are supporting the establishment of an African Green Fund in the near future. It would allow Africa to develop low carbon and climate resilient economies.
Attracting support from public and private institutions will also be key. This will be facilitated by generating a market environment that is conducive to technological innovation and investment in promising new sectors. Participants said African governments and public institutions must play a key role in creating that environment.
The participants called for practical steps to advance sustainable development. “Radical changes would be required in behaviour from governments, firms and consumers and matched by sufficient financial resources if this approach is to succeed,” said Abdoulie Janneh, Executive Secretary of UNECA.
The African Economic Conference is a major annual forum where high level officials, development actors, scholars and experts in economics and related subjects exchange knowledge and seek solutions to challenges facing the African continent. This year’s edition will inform discussions ahead of the Seventh Conference of the Parties on the 2012 Rio+20 summit and the Seventh Conference of the Parties on Climate Change, to be held in Durban, South Africa, next month.