6 February 2018

Experts Recommend Roadmap for Economic Diversification in Central Africa

Yaounde — Policymakers in Central Africa have been urged to establish platforms for public-private sector dialogue as one of the ways to enhance sustainable growth in the subregion.

The call is contained in a list of recommendations made by participants at a brainstorming session on pathways to economic diversification in Central Africa, which took place in Yaounde on 31 January.

The need to improve the availability and quality of technical education, especially for girls, and promote national or regional champions from the private sector that can inspire young entrepreneurs from the sub-region was also highlighted.

Antonio Pedro, Director of the ECA's Subregional Office for Central Africa (ECA/SRO-CA), noted that the fiscal position in which many Central African countries find themselves makes economic diversification a matter of urgency.

Mr. Pedro stated that, "by building upon the Douala Consensus - a rallying call for industrialization that was recently formulated by representatives of the public and private sector - today's meeting spelled out a range of critical policies that will need to be implemented," adding "we have moved from the why to the how of economic diversification."

The meeting identified four key thematic areas for intervention, notably the need for effective political leadership; improved governance and operational capacities of governments; securing sufficient financial resources for industrialization; and improvement of infrastructure and human capital.

The meeting was organized by ECA/SRO-CA with the aim of establishing clear actions and roles to guide the formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation, and strategy to accelerate the process of economic diversification, industrialization and structural transformation in Central Africa.

Mr. Pedro emphasized that it is important to provide the enabling framework for the private sector in Central Africa to flourish and that human capital and human resources need to be included in development planning, urgently. He added, "strengthening partnerships, and particularly the ties with the private sector is a critical and transcending issue."

The ECA/SRO-CA director also cautioned that given the tight fiscal space for Central African policymakers, which forces them to be ingenious, "We will need to develop robust macroeconomic frameworks and forecasting models to strengthening the ability of policymakers in the region to pursue both structural adjustment and economic diversification."

Further recommendations included the development of a guidebook on industrial policy formulation and implementation; a compendium of good practices on economic diversification; and the establishment of communities of practice on economic diversification and structural transformation to maintain the momentum.

The ECA official also suggested that "expert advice from countries that have successfully undergone a similar transformation, such as Singapore and Dubai, can be involved to inform these processes."

The outcome document of the meeting, including the full set of recommendations, will be released subsequently. Meanwhile, quarterly meetings will be organized by ECA/SRO-CA to monitor the progress on the operationalization of the Douala Consensus.

Participants included representatives of Cameroon's government, RECs, ECA, UNDP, the private sector, civil society, universities and research centers.

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