Time to Converge International Development Agendas in Central Africa

Photo: New Times
L-R: Presidents Faustin-Archange Touadera of Central African Republic, Idriss Deby Itno of Chad, Ali Bongo Odimba of Gabon, and Paul Kagame of Rwanda, and other dignitaries pose for a group photo during the 8th Extraordinary Session of the Heads of State of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) in Libreville, Gabon, yesterday.
7 December 2016

Libreville — A plethora of regional development bodies in Central Africa under the umbrella of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and the Central Africa Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) have indicated their appetite for internalising and aggregating Africa's Agenda 2063 and the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS) to better respond to the needs of the sub-region. The said regional economic communities (RECs) expressed their interest in better appropriating both agendas during the seventh session of the Sub-regional Coordination Mechanism (SRCM) of the UN System Support to the African Union and its NEPAD programme in Central Africa that ended in Libreville - the Gabonese capital today.

Convened by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in collaboration with the ECCAS secretariat, officials of the sub-regional bodies, the African Union Commission, the African Development Bank (AfDB) and their UN system partners (including UNDP, UNESCO, UNICEF, the UN Centre for Democracy and Human Rights in Central Africa, UNOCA) agreed on the urgent need of first grasping a better understanding and appropriation of the two agendas. This would lead to a robust campaign to sensitise stakeholders to the extent that member States in the sub-region take ownership of the agendas and integrate them into their development plans.

Harbinger of a new Common Indicative programme for Central Africa

Appropriating these agendas would be the anchor points for the third Common Indicative Programme (CIP III) of the UN System, development partners and the Regional Economic Communities in the sub-region, giving the expiration of the second of such programmes in December 2016. There were strong calls to align the new programmes with the periodic segments of the implementation plan for Agenda 2063 with its seven main aspirations that match several elements of the 17 SDGs. It was generally observed that priorities for the new programme should be hinged on the convergence of development programmes that would lead to sustainable development.

Of particular interest to the Secretary General of the ECCAS Secretariat - H.E. Mr Ahmad Allam-Mi, who opened the Session, was improved trade between countries of the sub-region.

"The operationalisation of the ECCAS Free Trade Area should therefore be the priority of the priorities of activities to be included in the next Common Indicative Programme, otherwise the ambitious project for the construction of a Common Market in Central Africa will remain, a pious wish for yet a long time to come," he said.

Both the Director of the Sub-regional Office for Central Africa of ECA - Mr Antonio Pedro and the Representative of the CEMAC Commission - Mr Eddie Justin MBANZA re-echoed the need for a convergence of efforts by UN agencies, other partners and sub-regional bodies to move forward with current development agendas adapted to the needs of Central Africa.

The session ended with the adoption of an 18-month a roadmap for populating and kick starting the third Common Indicative programme (CIP III) for Central Africa's development.

Discussions at the session were coordinated by the Deputy Secretary General of ECCAS (in Charge of Physical, Economic and Monetary Integration Secretariat General) - Ms MFOULA Marie Thérèse Chantal.

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