Though encouraging, Africa’s recent economic growth performance had limited impact on poverty reduction and employment creation, the essential factors for accelerating progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a ministerial meeting has concluded.
On that account, Africa’s finance, economy and planning ministers have committed their countries to making employment creation an explicit and central objective of economic and social policies from national to continental level.
In a statement at the end of their three-day annual meeting, the ministers have underscored the need to implement strategies for sustained, shared and broad-based growth in order to accelerate the continent’s pace to attain the MDGs.
Affirming their awareness of the constraints of weak infrastructure on growth and employment, the ministers said they were committed to scaling up investments in infrastructure, including multiple modes of transport.
The meeting has asked its organisers, the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the African Union Commission (AUC), to undertake a study on the implications for Africa of a possible slowdown in the US economy and the global sub-prime mortgage crisis.
Regarding the rising prices of oil on world market, the ministers underscored the need for countries to pursue alternative sources of energy in light of the finite nature of gas and oil resources.
On the recent hikes in food prices, the meeting cautioned that the trend posed significant threats to Africa’s growth, peace and stability.
However, they noted that the rise in food prices presented opportunities for increased food production in some of the African countries.
“We will explore appropriate policies and measures to mitigate the effects of rising food prices on living standards, especially for vulnerable groups, while harnessing opportunities for increased production presented by this phenomenon,” said the statement.
Regarding the HIV/AIDS challenge to Africa’s development, the ministers noted with concern the necessity to sustain long-term financial needs caused by the pandemic.
They pledged to undertake, in concert with sector partners and collagues, to expand treatment access for persons living with HIV/AIDS and to intensify efforts aimed at stemming further spread of the epidemic and other diseases, especially tuberculosis and malaria.
The ministers have, in addition, called on Africa’s development partners to fulfil their commitment on improving aid effectiveness as expressed in the 2005 Paris Declaration.
“We note that the recent increase in official development assistance is due to debt relief and humanitarian assistance and hence does not reflect additional resources for development financing,” said the ministerial statement.
Though the ministers acknowledged the positive impact of debt relief, they were concerned that Africa’s debt levels were still “too high and continue to pose a challenge to the continent’s ability to finance its development agenda.” Panapress.