ADDIS ABABA, Dec. 4 (Xinhua) — Economic transformation remains the most sustainable channel through which jobs can be generated for Africa’s growing labor force, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) said on Wednesday.
The statement was made by Adam Elhiraika, Head of Macroeconomics and Governance Division at the ECA, as he emphasized that “economic transformation remains the surest and most sustainable channel through which jobs can be generated for Africa’s growing labor force.”
“We need to transform our economies and stop digging and exporting raw materials because at this rate we will never meet the continent’s need for an estimated 10 million jobs annually,” an ECA statement issued Wednesday quoted Elhiraika as saying during the margins of the ongoing African Economic Conference (AEC2019).
The ECA director also stressed that Africa needs a “new vision that’s home-grown and can help us add value to our commodities and enable us to compete globally.”
According to Elhiraika, part of the continental new home-grown vision to enable Africa’s global competitiveness “already articulated in Agendas 2063 (AU’s 50-year continental development agenda) and the global Agenda 2030, and is geared towards transforming and industrializing our economies.”
Elhiraika further emphasized that regional integration and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) are “a must for a prosperous Africa.”
“We used to read textbooks that tell us that African countries cannot trade among themselves because they have similar economic structures. But today we are proud to say, for example, that South Africa is the main trading partner for all countries in Southern Africa just as Kenya is the main trading partner for all countries in East Africa and so on,” Elhiraika added.
He also urged African countries to “get serious about economic diversification and value addition, integration,” and bringing continental market to fruition, especially given its potential for sustainable job creation.
The African Economic Conference is jointly organized by the ECA, the African Development Bank and the United Nations Development Programme. Since its inception in 2006, the AEC series has fostered dialogue and exchange of knowledge on a variety of issues and challenges facing Africa.
AEC-2019, running December 2-4, is being held under the theme of “Jobs, Entrepreneurship and Capacity Development for African Youths.”