ETHIOPIAN Prime Minister Dr Abiyi Ahmed has told African finance ministers and policy makers meeting for the UNECA ministerial dialogue in Addis Ababa that the continent must finance its own development. The high level ministerial dialogue convened by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, focused on transformational opportunities offered by the African Continental Free Trade Area and the measures needed to unlock them.
During the official opening of the 51st Conference of Ministers which ended yesterday, Dr Ahmed urged the ministers and other participants to create the right conditions and commit the necessary resources for the creation of the world’s largest trading bloc. He said his government was ready to ratify the AfCFTA deal and deposit its instruments to the African Union.
“Let us finance our own development. There are no losers with the AfCFTA. We are all winners,” Dr Ahmed said, adding that the deal must create “inclusive prosperity” for all Africans, including marginalised and vulnerable communities.
And discussions on creating fiscal space for jobs and economic diversification addressed specific concerns in relation to falling tax revenues arising from the free movement of goods. But according to the ECA, the ratio of tax revenue to gross domestic product is already low in African countries.
“The ratio for many of them falls below 15 per cent, widely considered the minimum threshold for a state to function efficiently,” ECA stated yesterday.
And ECA executive secretary Vera Songwe has said seamless trade on the continent could create jobs and growth.
“If we provide the infrastructure and border reforms necessary through the AfCFTA, we can create jobs and growth,” Songwe said.
But African Capacity Building Foundation executive secretary Prof Emmanuel Nnadozie cautioned that nations must ensure actual implementation of the plan.
“Capacity is at the centre of the problem”, Prof Nnadozie said, and recommended that robust institutional arrangements, appropriate regulatory changes and private sector involvement would ensure the AfCFTA is implemented in an expeditious manner, according to the ECA statement.