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The conference will be based on three pillars, under each of which four sessions will be held in parallel. The three pillars are as follows:

Socioeconomic impact of COVID-19

Under this pillar, conference organizers will solicit papers that analyse the socioeconomic impact of COVID-19 in African countries, at both macro and micro levels, on various segments of society in diverse country contexts (including fragile, landlocked and/or small island States), in countries with varying levels of income, and in countries with diverse typographies, such as natural resource-dominated economies, net food importers, and tourism-dependent economies. The papers will contribute to the analysis of: the underlying factors that have dampened or exacerbated the impact of the pandemic on African countries; the effects of the pandemic-induced shocks across the social spectrum; and implications for the environment and economic transformation and outcomes.

Response to, recovery from, and building back better after COVID-19

Papers under this pillar will examine how well African countries have responded to the shocks caused by the pandemic, drawing on the lessons learned from the deployment of stimulus packages and the imposition of lockdowns to inform strategies for more effective responses in the future. They will explore the extent to which African countries were prepared for the shocks to their health-care, economic and political governance institutions, with a view to drawing lessons for the future. Papers are also expected to provide options for African countries to build back better, with an emphasis on equality and sustainability, by supporting African research and development, strengthening good governance and promoting economic diversification and inclusion.

Acceleration towards inclusive and sustainable development

Papers under this pillar will analyse the innovative strategies that must be adopted by African countries in order to accelerate progress towards the achievement of inclusive and sustainable development. They will analyse how African countries can leverage the innovations and digital space created by the fourth industrial revolution to respond to emergencies and spur inclusive growth. Papers will provide guidance on how economic transformations can be accelerated through strategic investments in health, water, energy, transport, and information and communications technology infrastructure and through investments in effective e-governance. They will also explore how the continent can leverage the African Continental Free Trade Area to rekindle transboundary cooperation in research and development and to develop inclusive value chains and industries (in particular the pharmaceutical industry), while boosting high-value-added intra-African trade and regional markets. They will also explore innovative models for financing high-priority regional projects in Africa.