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The 2021 edition of the African Economic Conference, jointly organized by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), is planned to be held in Cabo Verde from 2 to 4 December 2021. The theme of this year’s conference is “Financing Africa’s post-COVID-19 development”. Considering the multidimensional impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on Africa’s development, this theme will bring together various stakeholders, including policymakers, the private sector, and researchers, to examine ways and means to expand Africa’s development finance sources sustainably. Africa’s different financing frameworks should be explored to find innovative solutions, beyond the beaten track, so that Africa does not emerge from the COVID-19 crisis with a real loss of more than a decade of efforts to strengthen its economy and human capital.
The COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated the pressure on Africa’s development financing challenges by making public finances more strained, debt unsustainable, and foreign direct investment retracting. There is no better time to invite researchers, policymakers and other participants to conduct analysis, learn from best practices from Africa countries and elsewhere, and provide policy recommendations on how to rethink the development financing model for Africa towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and the aspirations of Agenda 2063.
The theme reflects the conference organizers’ consensus that it is important to explore the overarching financial dimension of development that is fundamental to address all the other socio and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The AEC 2021 will be an opportunity to deepen the reflection on the institutions and the financial system needed to ensure effective implementation of domestic resource mobilization efforts, to improve the regulatory responses to emerging and innovative sources of finance, including international financial markets, and digital financing and to increase global financial system transparency by enhancing the regulation and supervision of under-regulated financial markets, and reducing systemic risks of banking and shadow-banking systems. It will also be a venue to discuss how the continent can address the question of debt sustainability in financing its development and, therefore, how Africa can grow and develop sustainably out of debt.
Africa will not be able to bridge the large financing gap to achieve the SDGs, estimated at $200 billion per year, with existing government revenues and development assistance. It calls for deepening the expansion of tax bases to increase the capacity to finance public policies with own resources on the one hand. On the other hand, it implies modernizing the mechanisms for financing the economy by the national and international private sector.
The deepening of financial intermediation mechanisms and monetary policy instruments is therefore much more urgent. The monetary models of certain African sub-regions such as West Africa are thus urgently questioned by the populations.
The shock of COVID-19 presents Africa with a game-changing opportunity to put its financing strategies on a more sustainable footing. The AEC 2021 will be an occasion to stimulate this reflection.
Diverse perspectives will be represented at the conference, which will be attended by researchers, policymakers, the private sector, financial institutions and banks, development practitioners, young people, and women from Africa and from around the world. The conference will provide a platform for established academics and young researchers to present their solution-oriented research to policymakers and decision-makers. It is expected that at the end of the conference, policy recommendations will be made on strengthening Africa’s financing system to build-forward better within the framework of the United Nations decade of action for the Sustainable Development Goals.