3 April 2019

Armenia and ECA Seek Close Cooperation to Advance Africa's Development

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Addis Ababa — Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Deputy Executive Secretary, Giovanie Biha, on Wednesday met with the Republic of Armenia's Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr. Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, and discussed ways to forge close cooperation in advancing the smart development concept to help Africa in implementing Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and Africa's Agenda 2063.

Armenia, a former Soviet republic located in the mountainous Caucasus region between Asia and Europe, is a hub for software development, industrial computing, electronics, and production of semiconductors. Its information and communication technology sector plays a significant role in the country's economy due to a competitive labour force, its share of GDP, constant growth in the number of companies, and total turnover.

Mr. Mnatsakanyan said Armenia, which is in the process of opening an Embassy in Addis Ababa recognises the ECA's technical influence and reach in the African development landscape, hence the need for close cooperation.

With the meeting coming just before the fifth Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (ARFSD), the Foreign Minister said his country was determined to attend the High-level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development and raise its voice at the platform regarding the application of innovation in achieving the global development agenda.

The HLPF, which discusses the outcomes of regional forums on sustainable development, will be held in New York in July under the theme; Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality.

"Armenia would like to forge cooperation with the ECA to advance the smart development concept towards achieving Agenda 2030 and Agenda 2063 by way of developing e-solutions through sharing and exchanging knowledge," said Mr. Mnatsakanyan.

In the absence of natural resources, the Government of Armenia focuses extensively on the concept of innovation and human resources development for its economic revolution agenda, creating the optimum conditions for people to capitalize on their generative capacity through research and development, he said. The country has 50,000 robotic engineers and 4.7% of its GDP is generated from internet and software solutions.

Armenian delegates attending the meeting presented the operational concept of Armenia's smart technology approach through a Union of Advanced Technologies Entrerprises (UATE), a public-private partnership.

Ms. Biha said the ECA was open for cooperation regarding the smart development approach, in the context of its ongoing efforts to introduce and leverage smart concept and technology in support of the continental development agenda and the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).

"Also in light of ongoing UN reforms which are urging us to rethink development and consequently integrate the work of UN agencies for more efficiency at the regional and national levels, this couldn't be coming at a more opportune time," she added.

Ms. Biha added the partnership would also help with follow-up actions for implementing recommendations from the 2019 ECA Conference of Ministers addressing digital technology and science in support of Africa's development.

ECA shared with the Armenian delegation areas of interest for potential cooperation, including digital ID, digital trade and digital economy; enhancing ECA's capacity for data collection; promotion of in-house innovation, as well as external support for Africa's development agenda; policy-research work and activities with universities in the field of biometric engineering; supporting development of e-government payment processes and intellectual e-property rights.

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