Innovation, Leadership and Persistence Key to Supporting Africa’s Transformation

By Khalifa Hemed
Published October 5, 2017

Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of United Nations Economic Commission for Africa says leadership and persistence are necessary for innovation to innovation to support transformation of Africa.It is critical that Africa’s new industries play their crucial role in promoting the continent’s structural transformation.

Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), while speaking in the Senegalese capital during the 3rd Investing in Africa Forum (IAF) that is also known as the China-Africa Forum, noted that this investment in innovation requires leadership and persistence.

Saying that trade, Information Communications Technology (ICT) and climate smart industrialisation were some of the areas that represent Africa’s efforts to leapfrog through innovation, Songwe said the Addis Ababa (Ethiopia)-based UNECA is providing assistance through the formulation of supportive policies to create adequate legal frameworks and capacity-building.

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Highlighting the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) agreement which seeks to create a single continental market for goods and services, promote free movement of business persons and investments and expand intra-African trade, the economist from Cameroon said Africa was creating a governance system around markets which should allow for more and better trade.

“The CFTA provides an opportunity to advance the Continent’s agenda through discussing agreements on services and ICT as well as issues of copyright. ECA will continue to support African countries to enact policies that support innovation and growth on the continent, as well as data that enables evidence-based research,” she noted.

Investing in Africa Forum (IAF) was established in 2015 as a global platform for multilateral cooperation and promoting opportunities to increase investment in Africa.Songwe called on African countries to continue to leapfrog the business-as-usual carbon-intensive methods of growth and pursue pathways to green industrialisation.

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“Industrialisation, energy and water efficiency are not in competition. Africa can industrialise while improving its climate indicators,” Songwe said.

IAF was established in 2015 as a global platform for multilateral cooperation and promoting opportunities to increase investment in Africa.