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Meeting of African Ministers Opens In Marrakech

Meeting of African Ministers Opens In Marrakech

This week Morocco hosts the 52nd Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development. The summit kicked-off with a press conference on Tuesday with an agenda to overhaul fiscal policy, trade and the private sector in a new digital age.

Delegations from across Africa arrived in Morocco for the opening of the 2019 Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development in Marrakech on Wednesday.

Held on the theme: ‘Fiscal policy, trade and the private sector in the digital era: A strategy for Africa’, this year’s conference calls on regional governments to use digital technology to mobilise domestic resources, and drive growth and competitiveness.

During the conference delegates will build momentum towards greater continental integration by hashing out the policy details of the historic African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreed at last year’s summit.

The pan-African trade-bloc needs to be ratified by three more member states before it comes into effect, as it currently has only 19 of the 22 ratifications needed.

Speaking at a press conference at the opening of the summit on Tuesday, Adam Elhiraika, the director of the ECA’s macroeconomics policy division said: “The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is an opportunity that will transform Africa.”

Spanning 44 countries with a total gross domestic product of more than $3trn, the free- trade zone aims to create millions of jobs by deepening integration.

Delegates will also discuss how to align national policies to boost tax revenues, improve the management of public expenditure, tackle illicit financial flows and make private finance available for public projects.

Tapping The Digital Economy

Sessions and roundtables will see ministers of finance from Morocco, South Africa, Egypt, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe discuss how African governments can work together to mobilise domestic resources and digital technology to raise the funds needed to realise their development goals.

Elhiraika stressed the necessity of using digital technology to drive revenues and make tax administration and collection more efficient.

“There’s a huge potential for African governments to mobilise domestic resources in the public & private sector. We can’t rely on external sources to bridge this gap.”

Countries in Africa have the potential to grow tax revenues by 3 to 4%, by bringing hard-to-tax sectors such as agriculture, digital economy, and informal sectors into the tax bracket, he said.

Side-line Events

Throughout the week experts and policy-makers from inside and outside Africa will debate policies for effective fiscal and digital transformation designed to foster sustainable growth.

A series of 17 side-events from March 23-24 will also provide a platform for members to debate and reach a consensus on Africa’s priorities for action.

One Saturday the ECA will the launch of 2019 Economic Report on Africa assessing the nature and performance of fiscal policy and offering an analysis of the challenges and opportunities ahead.

On Monday, the annual Adebayo Adedeji Lecture, named after ECA’s longest serving Executive Secretary, the late Professor Adebayo Adedeji, will pay tribute the late thinker’s contribution to discourse on development on the continent.  

High-level events will also be held to discuss the key findings and recommendations of a series of reports including the Economic Report On Africa, the 2019 Global Education Monitoring Report, and the ECA’s regional integration reports.

The conference runs from March 20 to 26th in the Morocco.

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