Addis Ababa — As part of activities marking her second day in office as Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Vera Songwe today met, separately, with representatives of the African Union Commission (AUC), the Ethiopian Ministry of Finance and Economic Cooperation, and with the dean of the diplomatic corps.
Jacques-Alfred Ndoumbe-Eboule, Cameroon Ambassador to Ethiopia and Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, said he was pleased to see a woman at the helm of ECA, stating, "This means ECA and the AUC, which formerly had a woman as chairperson, are making strides in gender parity." He assured Ms. Songwe of "our full support in this delicate task" of heading the Commission.
The dean commended ECA for having "evolved over the last four years in terms of relations with member states," adding that he hopes for better collaboration between ECA and ambassadors in Ethiopia who serve as bridge between the Commission and its member states.
The Cameroonian diplomat also commented on the postponed joint ECA/AUC Annual Conference of Ministers in Dakar (CoM2017), stating, "this is an important event for the continent" and there's urgent need to address what caused the postponement.
Speaking of his country, Cameroon, Mr. Ndoumbe-Eboule said, "we are making strides towards the structural transformation of our economy and we hope to continue benefitting from ECA's expertise and technical assistance."
For her part Ms. Songwe reassured the dean that ECA takes its collaboration with ambassadors in Ethiopia very seriously and is committed to improving such collaboration.
"We are here to serve our member states, which you represent as ambassadors. As dean, you have a unique responsibility to talk to fellow ambassadors and give us suggestions on how to improve our relations."
At the AUC, Ms. Songwe met with deputy chairperson, Thomas Kwesi Quartey, who said the AUC has had great working relations with ECA over the past years and that "we look forward to absolute cooperation with you and your team." The two discussed education, migration, industrialization, the AU Reform, domestic resource mobilization and other issues pertinent to Africa's transformation.
The Executive Secretary expressed her commitment to carry on with the good working relations between the two institutions, stating, "having the ECA and AU working closely together makes for a wealth of knowledge and great potential to change the continent." She also expressed her desire to see more space for women in the AU agenda.
Earlier in the day, Ms. Songwe met with Admasu Nebebe, Ethiopian State Minister for Finance and Economic Cooperation, who conveyed his ministry's readiness to collaborate with the new Executive Secretary.
"Most of the analytical work done by ECA has been very useful to Ethiopia and we do cooperate excellently. We always consult each other very closely and I hope that the close collaboration will continue with you because we are ready to serve you and to work with you and facilitate your work here in Ethiopia."
Ms. Songwe thanked the state minister for the warm welcome and readiness to support her work and expressed her desire to see affirmative action for women in Ethiopia, among other things.
"Ethiopia is a good example in Africa in terms of economic growth. It would be great to see more policies and budgets that incorporate women's empowerment aspects.
The new ECA chief also got pledges of support from the Ethiopian prime minister and officials at the ministry of foreign affairs during her courtesy visits on 3 August,2017.
Ms. Songwe takes over from Carlos Lopes who left ECA months ago. Prior to her arrival, Abdalla Hamdok, ECA's Deputy Executive Secretary, served as Acting Executive Secretary.