Interview With Eunice Egbuna, Director, Financial Integration, West African Monetary Institute

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The Director of Financial Integration at the West African Monetary Institute, Eunice Egbuna, a Nigerian national, discusses the importance of girls' education in Africa's development on the occasion of the 2012 African Economic Conference, which concluded Friday, November 2 in Kigali, Rwanda.

The African Economic Conference highlighted primary and vocational education for young girls as a key factor for inclusive growth and sustainable development in the continent. As an African and educated woman, what would be your personal message to young African girls to encourage them to take ownership of this?

Researchers at the conference were so right to also focus on girls' primary education and vocational school attendance. From our experience, we would state that competent and combative women are the future of this continent. Just see the role of women in various organizations and societies. I would like to add my voice to all the researchers here in Kigali, to encourage our young girls to attend vocational schools. It is the only way to fight poverty and to meet the continent's development challenges.

African girls direly need to get primary education and also go beyond and go to vocational schools and universities. This also depends on political will. More opportunities must be provided to young girls if our countries want to meet the challenges in the area of inclusive growth and sustainable development: creating more vocational schools and encouraging girls to attend. Women are the beginning of the world.

I am glad to observe that in many African countries education of girls is at the core of the governments' reform agenda. The government of my country for instance has made of gender balance a personal and institutional agenda, with full support for women with the slogan: "Don't give me work because I am a woman, but based on my competence and qualifications." We want African girls to take ownership of this and contribute to making inclusive growth possible in the continent.

How would you assess the 2012 African Economic Conference? Concretely, what is the take-away?

This is my second participation in the African Economic Conference. The Kigali meeting was successful. The topics discussed throughout the conference were inspiring, with regard to the high profile of discussants, the quality of papers and interactions as well as the quality of participants. In my view, all the objectives of the conference were largely achieved. It was a most fulfilling moment for participants, having had the opportunity to listen to high-level economists both from within Africa and outside.

Exchange of experience on our continent's economy and networking opportunities have been wonderful and should be sustained at all cost, because, going forward, we are expecting to have grown economic and policy solutions to African problems in an age of uncertainty. Going forward, we need to be inclusive in our daily behaviours, wherever we come from and whatever assignment we carry out for this continent's development. I would like to congratulate and thank the organizers. The experience gained has broadened my research scope and will remain with me for a long time. I was specifically positively impressed by the high-level presentation concerning regional integration. I was more energized than ever, because that is my area of work at the West African Monetary Institute in Accra.

Finally, allow me to say a few words about Kigali, Rwanda. It is my first visit to the country, and it is indeed the land of a thousand hills: very clean, with friendly and hospitable people.

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