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Inclusive and Sustainable Development in an Age of Economic Uncertainty

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The global economy has entered an age of uncertainty and instability. The recovery from the Great Recession of 2008/2009 remains feeble in the US and other developed countries. Many countries in Europe are ravaged by a severe debt crisis. The global financial system has yet to fully recover the trust it once enjoyed. Equally, political instability persists in a number of hotspots around the world. Markets for fuel and food have become more inter-linked and more volatile. Large segments of the world’s youth, in both developing and developing countries, are facing dim employment opportunities.

This age of uncertainty is being felt in much of Africa. Countries more integrated with the global economy, especially those in North Africa and middle income countries south of the Sahara, are directly exposed to global economic prospects. Less developed countries are affected by falling levels of exports, remittances and official aid. The political transitions in North Africa continue to affect the economies of many countries, with spillover effects extending to some countries in the Sahel and in the Horn of Africa. The increased frequency of elections is one of the great achievements in the continent, but elections often bring risks of instability and increased social tension.

After a decade of strong growth and improvements in poverty levels, an overarching challenge facing the continent is how to sustain and even accelerate progress in this era of economic uncertainty. The focus of the session will be a critical analysis of the drivers of growth, what these organizations have learned in the aftermath of the Great Recession, and how they are adapting and changing to support African countries to meet their developmental aspirations.

Guiding questions

Speakers in this plenary session will focus on the following questions:

  • What opportunities do policymakers have to mitigate economic and other shocks in the face of global economic uncertainty?
  • What needs to be done to accelerate Africa’s structural transformation?
  • Why has economic growth in Africa had such a limited impact on employment creation and poverty reduction? Why does inequality remain so high in both middle and low-income countries?
  • To what extent can intra African economic integration propel economic growth in the continent, and fill the gap created by the fall in demand from developed countries?
  • Given declining aid flows, how can countries mobilize domestic resources through private investment and more efficient taxation? How to draw on the exploration of natural resources and curbing of illicit capital flows to enhance domestic resource mobilization?