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COM2019: The continent is far from the SDGs

An appropriate fiscal policy, intra-regional trade and a digital strategy for the future. These are the challenges of Africa and it is around these axes that continues in Marrakech the work of the Conference of Ministers for the 52nd session of the Economic Commission of Africa which also celebrates 60 years of existence.

The work was preceded by those of the expert committee on the same themes. It is also an opportunity to advocate for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and examine the fiscal policies necessary for its implementation. Objective: To leave no country aside as mentioned in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

More than a decade before the end of this program and the continent is still very far from the objectives. To reach them requires means and unlocking the necessary funding, says Aminata Mohamed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations. Only one way out: the continent needs to digitize its economies, broaden its tax base, prevent the deterioration of its tax revenues and increase its debt, and aim for a double-digit growth rate.

These are the recommendations of the economic report on Africa published at the conference of ministers. While economic growth in Africa remains moderate, at 3.2% in 2018, Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of ECA believes that the continent needs to do more, and strike the right balance between rising incomes and investments to stimulate growth. Today, Africa is plural. If in the East, the growth went from 6.1% in 2017 to 6.2% in 2018, in West Africa has posted a growth rate of 3.2% in 2018 against 2.4% in 2017.

For ECA, African countries can increase government revenues from 12% to 20% by adopting a policy framework that will enhance revenue collection, including through the digitization of African economies – this can increase the mobilization of African economies by 6% revenue. “The digital economy currently accounts for 15.5 percent of global GDP and is expected to reach 25 percent of global GDP in less than a decade.

The number of digital innovation poles has grown on the continent, such as Silicon Savannah in Nairobi and Kumasi Hive in Ghana, not to mention the more solution-oriented technologies such as Flutterwave which allows the settlement of international payments in Nigeria by means of a unique platform. In 2018, this application processed $ 1 billion worth of transactions,” says Songwe.

“Through the use of technological innovation, the countries of the continent can streamline trade and the fight against fraud, the informal and bureaucracy while mobilizing more revenue,” says his side Mohamed Benchaaboun, Moroccan Minister of Finance and new President of the Economic Commission for Africa. The private sector has an important role in these strategies and is the biggest winner, insists Benchaaboun.

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