ECA chief cautions on risks facing Africa's economic growth

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) - Despite the fairly optimistic scenario of the African economy at present, there remains serious downside risks that can undermine stability as recent events in some countries show, UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) Executive Secretary Abdoulaye Janneh warned here Thursday.

Addressing the opening of the 18th ordinary session of the Executive Council of the African Union (AU), Janneh said Africa's relatively-strong growth was yet to translate into meaningful job creation for the rapidly-expanding youth population, and that the situation was further
compounded by rising food and fuel prices, dangers of climate change and currency tensions in developed countries.

According to economists at the UNECA, the African economy was overall resilient during the global economic crisis, and various recent studies found that some of the fastest growing economies globally over the last decade were in Africa.

The studies also suggest that Africa has the potential as a destination for foreign direct investment in support of global growth.

According to available data, the continent's gross domestic product (GDP) grew on average by 4.7 percent in 2010, compared to 2.4 percent during the global downturn in 2009.

"This swift and fairly robust recovery [in Africa] was helped by high commodity prices, increased flows of foreign direct investment and the rebound of tourism," Janneh said.

Also, the recovery in some countries was reinforced by countercyclical policies and a good showing in the agriculture and telecommunications sectors.

"If Africa's promising growth is to be sustained and improved upon, it must be buttressed by the shared values that underpin our societal and state relations, including respect for the human being, equity, equality of opportunity and affirmation of the African identity," said the ECA chief.

The Executive Council is holding a two-day meeting ahead of the 16th ordinary summit of the AU leaders, who will meet under the theme: 'Towards Greater Unity and Integration through Shared Values.''

On the summit theme, Janneh said shared values convey a sense of community and common interests.

"I would aver in this regard that Africa has contributed to promoting a globally-accepted ethical norm that an individual does not exist in isolation from his community, what our brothers and sisters in southern Africa call 'ubuntu'," said Janneh.

Africa's quest for common values emerged in the pre-independence era. Though the process has been marked by successes and setbacks, the African identity that is closely related to the vision for an integrated continent remains a common thread.

It was the shared identity that helped shape Africa's institutional landscape, starting with the Organisation of African Unity -- the forerunner of the AU -- and regional economic communities.

The same spirit buttressed the common commitment of African countries to improving governance and adoption of democratic ideals, respect for human rights, promotion of gender equality, promotion of cultural and religious tolerance as well as building inclusive and harmonious societies.
-0- PANA AR/SEG 27Jan2011

By Anaclet Rwegayura,
PANA Correspondent

27 january 2011 09:20:11




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