The acting Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa, Mr Antonio Pedro, has said the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals may be hanging if poverty in Africa continues to increase.
The ECA boss, speaking in a statement issued by the Communications Session of the UN agency, said growing poverty could also affect the African vision.
Pedro said the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine and severe natural disasters had eroded Africa’s development gains.
He noted that this had resulted in a staggering 149 million previously non-poor Africans, currently facing the risk of falling into poverty.
He said, “The growing number of new poor and vulnerable people is making it harder to close the gap between the rich and the poor. Africa currently accounts for the largest share of the world’s poor.
“This inevitably has a far-reaching impact on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and the vision of the Africa we want.”
According to him, there is a need for real action on reducing the high cost of trade, adding that this will ease the burden on access to affordable goods for poor, hard-hit households that are losing out on health, education and meaningful opportunities.
He noted that it was time to expedite the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement as a powerful lever for poverty reduction.
Speaking further, he noted that AfCFTA’s promise cuts across all economic sectors, presenting a new pathway for broad-based growth.
“In the agri-food sector, which is critical to overcoming vulnerabilities associated with food insecurity for the over 300 million affected Africans, ECA estimates show that the sector will yield an additional $43.3bn in trade revenue by 2045, if the agreement is expedited,” Pedro claimed.
He added that additional opportunities abound in sectors such as pharmaceuticals, vehicles and transport equipment, metals, textile, apparel and leather products.
He also charged the participants to ensure that climate action must be mainstreamed in policy development and implementation.
“We are living through the devastating impact of climate events that have led to the migration and displacement of some 85 million people in the region,” he stated.
According to him, increasing temperatures have contributed to a reduction by a third in average agricultural productivity growth, while the continent’s 38 coastal countries are facing climate-related threats to their blue economies.