Livingstone — There is no quick fix to development anywhere in the world. Speaking at the opening of the two day Adhoc Expert Group Meeting (AEGM) in Livingstone, Zambia, United Nations. Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Director, Said Adejumobi said that development was a product of concerted efforts and ingenuity by society.
"Africa will have to think differently not only to develop, but also in running to catch up with the rest of the world, the efficient exploitation and efficient management of natural resources will be key to Africa's development and the realization of vision 2063.
He said that the meeting whose theme is 'Making Natural Resources work for Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development, has come at the backdrop of renewed confidence about the fate and future of the continent. "With a stable GDP growth rate for over a decade, Africa is back in the global storyline as possibly the new pole of the global economic growth" he said.
Adejumobi said that although Africa's growth rate has not been phenomenal, it comes against a background of a failing global economy, as such, Africa was a good story to tell. "The question then is how does Africa maintain the momentum of its growth and achieve the structural transformation of its economies? Africa's natural resources are central to unlocking the continents sustained economic growth and development." He said.
Meanwhile, Ministry of Finance (Zambia) Permanent Secretary, Felix Nkulukusa said the responsibility to develop Southern Africa lies with us. He said despite the abundant resources of arable land, water, forestry, wildlife and minerals the region has failed to address intractable poverty throughout the region.
He said Africa's economic transformation was dependent on the exploitation of natural resources "It is not debatable that the exploitation of these vast natural resources has been at the centre our accelerated recovery from the adverse effects of the financial and economic crisis of 2008" he said
However Nkulukusa bemoaned the growing inequality amidst reported economic growth citing high coefficient in stable economies of the region including Namibia, South Africa and Botswana "The high economic growth rate amidst poverty and inequality is unacceptable and unsustainable. In Zambia rural poverty is as high as 78 percent and youth unemployment at 56 percent" he argued.
He called for deeper economic integration, regional value chains, value addition and participation of local people in the economies.
The Adhoc Expert Group meeting taking place from 10-11 March 2014, precedes the 20th Session of the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts (ICE) which will take place from 13-14 March 2014 under the same theme.
Over 50 experts in natural resources representing member States, industry leaders, academia, civil society and international organisations have convened to discuss and review preliminary findings of an ECA study on natural resources in Southern Africa.
The experts are expected to make recommendations to the ICE on how the region can make the most of its natural resources through sound policies and programs in order to facilitate growth that is inclusive, reduce poverty and increasing the participation of all citizens.
The AEGM is organized by the ECA and hosted by the Government of Zambia, Ministry of Finance. Minister of Finance, Hon. Alexandar Chikwanda will officially open the ICE on Thursday morning.