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Interview with Ben Idrissa Ouedraogo, UNECA Economic Affairs Officer
“The crisis should be taken as an opportunity to reassess development strategies, policies and practices…. Efforts should be made to identify the appropriate elements of a strategy for sustainable development based on domestic resources, human capacity building, employment creation accompanied by comprehensive social safety net programmes, competitive production and regional integration,” says UNECA Economic Affairs Officer, Ben Idrissa Ouédraogo.
Question: You have been one of the key players in the 4th African Economic Conference currently being held in Addis Ababa. As an economist, what are your expectations?
Answer: First of all, I would like the current African Economic Conference to consolidate the reputation and credibility of this framework in terms of knowledge sharing, dialogue and the exchange of ideas and research enhancement. Indeed, the high profile and the diversity of the participation are testimonies to the interest that this event raises, not only within Africa, but also outside the continent. However, it should be emphasized that the conference should not miss its premier role as the continental think-tank where home-grown strategies and policies should be presented, debated, analyzed and used for policy design and implementation. On this year's very relevant theme, the conference should then provide not only deep insights into the analysis of the impact of the crisis on the continent; it should also help in formulating the appropriate mitigation and long-term responses. Furthermore, the conference should envisage identifying key elements of non-traditional home-grown strategies in order to create wealth and ensure sustainable development through decent employment creation. In this process, the continent should review its relationship with the rest of the world in order to better defend the interests of its people.
Question: Like the G-20, what concrete and joint action plan are the AfDB, UNECA and the AU envisaging to express the continent’s concerns?
Answer: Several measures and steps were taken by African governments, regional and continental institutions in order to mitigate the impact of the crises. At the continental level, in collaboration with the AfDB and the African Union Commission, the ECA has been assisting African countries in assessing the potential economic impacts, monitoring the crisis with the Committee of 10 finance ministers and central banks governors, preparing coordinated policy responses and voicing the continent's concerns globally like during the G-20 Summit or at the UN High Level Conference on the global economic and financial crises. In addition, among several initiatives, the AfDB established a US$1 billion trade finance initiative in 2009 to assist African countries and facilitate trade flows to the continent. Yet, the crisis should be taken as an opportunity to reassess development strategies, policies and practices. Efforts should be made to identify the appropriate elements of a strategy for sustainable development based on domestic resources, human capacity building, employment creation accompanied by comprehensive social safety net programmes, competitive production and regional integration.