Addis Ababa — The African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) provides the continent with an opportunity to develop regional value chains that will lead to market expansion and creation of much-needed quality jobs, says Ethiopia's Finance Minister, Ahmed Shide.
Speaking at the end of an Economic Commission for Africa-World Bank roundtable workshop on jobs and economic transformation, Mr. Shide said the AfCFTA is a game-changer as it provides a unique platform for Africa to push its economic transformation agenda.
"To realise these objectives, bold actions will be required in terms of policies, investments and partnerships," he told participants attending the workshop to discuss jobs and economic transformation under the World Bank's International Development Association - IDA19 - replenishment process.
Mr. Shide said industrial transformation and diversification was key for this transformation and job creation.
"There is evidence that industrialization is taking place in Africa, albeit at a slow pace," he said, adding the creation of and linkages of markets would be key to the continent's economic transformation.
Services and connectivity are equally important to catalyze industrialization and employment creation, the Minister said.
"All these - industrialization, services and job creation, will only happen when we have a strong private sector delivered through an enabling business environment. This is a priority for Ethiopia, and the government is working towards improving its business environment," said Mr. Shide.
"We must leverage technology and digitalization as an important enabler for value-addition. Gradual evolution of technology is no longer sufficient."
He said while job creation required growth models that support countries on the economic transformation path, this could not be done uniformly.
"Transforming our economies requires differentiated approaches based on the context and realities on the ground. Thus it will be critical to guide IDA's future support on a clear implementation strategy to achieve maximum impact with the jobs for economic transformation agenda," the Minister said.
The IDA is the part of the World Bank that helps the world's poorest countries. It is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world's 75 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa, and is the single largest source of donor funds for basic social services in these countries.
Partners meet every three years to replenish IDA funds and review its policies. IDA19 will be held in Addis Ababa in June.