By Devendra Kamarajan
ADDIS ABABA (IDN) – The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) at its 60th anniversary celebrations in Addis Ababa has launched the Africa Poverty Clock, a customized version of the world poverty clock developed by World Data Lab, aimed at monitoring progress against extreme poverty, an aspiration of the United Nations’ first Sustainable Development Goal – SDG1. The Clock provides real-time poverty estimates till 2030 for the majority of countries around the world.
Speaking at the launch, the ECA Executive Secretary, Vera Songwe said that many African countries have achieved remarkable progress over the last six decades.
“We have seen African economies labelled as some of the fastest growing in the world. Africa today is an Africa that has risen and one whose economic autonomy is underway, moving from political independence to economic independence,” she said.
She, however, indicated that African countries rank as some of the worst economic and social indicators. Inequality and poverty remain persistently high, with over 400 million people living in extreme poverty.
Africa is home to 70 percent of the world’s most poor people and current projections show that all countries of the region are off track to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of eliminating extreme poverty by 2030. The achievement of prosperity remains elusive and there is a demand to do better.
“There is a need for bigger and bolder actions to accelerate the pace of sustainable economic growth and development. We need better insights, knowledge and innovative partnerships,” she added.
The launch took place in the presence of Ethiopia’s Deputy Prime Minister, Demeke Mekonen, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Achim Steiner and the African Union Commission Deputy Chairperson Kwesi Quartey and Ambassador Elsadig Omer Abdalla, Deputy Head of Mission and Charge d’Affaires, Republic of Sudan. Members of the Diplomatic Corps and key representatives from partner institutions, Think Tanks, Civil Society Organizations, University Students, High School Students and the Private Sector were in attendance.
ECA, also known as UNECA, has been playing a dual role as a regional arm of the UN and as a key component of the African institutional landscape. Comprising 54 member States, ECA has been promoting economic and social development, fostering intra-regional integration, and supporting international cooperation for Africa’s development.
Commemorating the 60th anniversary with an official event at its headquarters in Addis Ababa on December 17, Ethiopia’s Deputy Prime Minister Mekonen commended the ECA for its contributions to the Continent’s development. He said: “ECA has been the most important and effective institution in development of our knowledge across a range of issues relevant to Africa’s development.”
He emphasized ECA’s support to the process of the realization of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA), the role it has played in Africa’s transformation agenda and the implementation of the SDGs and Agenda 2063.
“It is an anniversary that underlines the effective solidarity and real cooperation of the ECA and Africa,” Mekonen said and added that the commemoration was taking place at an exciting time of change and reform in the country, as well as the peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea.
For her part, the ECA Executive Secretary Songwe congratulated all staff, past and present for their contributions and said: “We must continue to listen and engage with member States and other key stakeholders, including the private sector, academic institutions and civil society organizations to ensure that ECA’s activities respond to the new and emerging challenges of the continent and the aspirations of Africans.”
Looking ahead, she said, an estimated 40 million jobs will need to be created every month by 2020 to absorb the number of young people entering the workforce. As such, bigger and bolder actions to accelerate the pace of sustainable economic growth and development will be needed.
UNDP Administrator Steiner congratulated the ECA for its role in promoting economic and social development of Africa and fostering regional integration since its establishment by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in 1958 as one of the world body’s five regional commissions.
African Union Commission Deputy Chairperson Quartey provided a poignant historical overview of the ECA and the importance of its founding at a time when many African countries had not gained independence.
To mark the occasion, a series of events took place in the ECA Subregional Offices as well as in Addis Ababa. A football tournament resulted in a win by the African Union Commission.
A highlight of the celebrations was the innovation prize involving students from schools in Addis Ababa, which brought attention to the role of the youth in creating solutions to meet Africa’s development challenges in the coming decade.
Awards were presented along various categories, including art. ECA staff, having taken part in a separate innovation contest on institutional projects and initiatives were also acknowledged and awarded by the Executive Secretary. [IDN-InDepthNews – 22 December 2018]
Photo credit: UN Economic Commission for Africa.
IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate.
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