Experts Call on UNECA to Support Member States to Respond COVID-19 pandemic

Addis Ababa March 21/2021 (ENA) Experts have called on United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) to continue supporting member States’ bid to access more resources to effectively respond to COVID-19 pandemic.

The meeting of the committee of experts of the Conference of African Ministers ahead of the African Finance Ministers Meeting on Monday agreed on a number of issues.

The need for the UNECA to support advocacy by Member States for the extension of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative, freeing up an additional 8 billion USD for recovery in 2021 and providing much needed liquidity to respond to the crisis, are among the issues reached an agreement. 

The experts called on the commission to mobilize support for a Special Drawing Rights re-allocation mechanism that is commensurate with the development financing needs of African countries. 

They were also concerned by the adverse socio-economic and health impacts of COVID-19 pandemic on African economies, coupled with their limited fiscal and monetary tools to respond to the crisis.

The experts commended various initiatives undertaken by UNECA to support Member States in leveraging the adoption of the African Union Commission and Africa CDC Joint Continental Strategy for COVID-19 outbreak in March 2020 as a blueprint and master plan for coordinating regional efforts to ensure synergy and minimize duplication to save lives and support African social and economic development. 

They lauded the various initiatives undertaken by UNECA in supporting member States in the World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights on vaccines, debt relief and the issuance of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) by the International Monetary Fund. 

The experts requested UNECA, in collaboration with the African Union Commission and all relevant stakeholders to assist African Member States in putting in place continental strategies and policies to facilitate the production of vaccines on the continent, improve pooled procurement and leverage the use of digital tools in national supply chains for improved accessibility for all.  

They urged UNECA to continue supporting member States in vaccine procurement, including through additional funding available from debt relief of the G-20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative, development finance institutions and SDRs. 

They further urged ECA to provide technical support to its Member States, the African Union Commission, the secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area, and regional economic communities in respect of agricultural development, industrialization, high-priority continental infrastructure projects, digitalization, implementation of national strategies for the AfCFTA, and phase II and phase III negotiations. 

The experts also called on Pan-African organizations and partners to work in close collaboration and foster synergies to support African countries to mitigate the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

The experts said steps should be taken to ensure that key targets and indicators of the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063 are incorporated into national development plans and Integrated Geospatial Information Framework to expanding current national data systems to new data frontiers in support of integrated spatial planning and inclusive and sustainable growth. 

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