“The 2018 African Economic Conference (AEC) will present practical solutions from experts in regional integration and the private sector,” said a senior official at the African Development Bank, during a preparatory meeting of the next ACS, on Thursday 25 October 2018 in Abidjan.
This edition of the ACS, the thirteenth, to be held in Kigali, Rwanda, from 3 to 5 December 2018, on the theme “Regional and Continental Integration for Africa’s Development”, will be hosted by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
The ACS is the main forum for discussions on the burning issues of African continent. “The expectations are high for the 2018 AEC,” say the partners (African Development Bank, UNDP and UN Economic Commission for Africa, UNECA).
“The experts will adopt a pragmatic approach, and propose practical solutions, especially for the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). Key representatives of the private sector will share their experiences on their activities in the continent, “said Moono Mupotola, Director of the Integration Department of the African Development Bank Group.
Despite the progress made, and the political commitments of African leaders, the path to continental integration remains slow. Main challenges: political will and lack of resources and technical capacity to facilitate the implementation of the commitments made. Ms Mupotola pointed out, however, that important milestones have been laid recently – the launch of the African Common Passport in July 2016 and the commitment of 44 African countries to launch the AfCFTA.
This year’s conference will focus on initiatives to accelerate progress on infrastructure integration, removing barriers to cross-border movement of goods and services to people. The experts will discuss best practices and lessons learned for optimal harmonization of policies and institutions in the context of Africa’s new continental free trade area. Africa’s Agenda 2063 and the Global Agenda 2030 will also be important frameworks for the deliberations of the conference.
And Mupotola added: A new development policy of the African Development Bank, allowing regional projects to allocate 10% of their total budget to interventions in favor of soft infrastructure, was another important step. The Bank is also developing a Trade and Transport Facilitation Toolkit, which should help transport sector project managers to include “soft” components in the design of their projects.
“There is a need to intensify activities in the area of soft infrastructure to facilitate integration in areas such as harmonization of policies and regulations, removal of non-tariff barriers, improvement of logistics between countries and other factors that affect Africa’s competitiveness, “concluded the director of the Bank’s Regional Integration Department.
The ACS is jointly organized each year by the African Development Bank Group, UNDP and UNECA. The African Development Bank will host the fourteenth edition of the ACS in 2019.