By Christabel Ligami

African countries should transition into inclusive, low carbon, and resource-efficient economies by tapping into home-grown innovative solutions for financing, say experts at the 42nd meeting of the Committee of Experts of the Conference of Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development (COM2024).

The conference is being hosted by the Government of Zimbabwe on the theme of ‘Financing the transition to inclusive green economies in Africa: Imperatives, opportunities, and policy options’ between 28 February- 5 March, 2024.

Mthuli Ncube, Zimbabwe’s minister of Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion said with 127 million hectares of potentially irritable land of which only around 13% of this land is currently being used for irrigation, “unfortunately, Africa is not leveraging its resources, including land.”

“We have vast water bodies to irrigate our rich soils; all we need is investment in advanced irrigation technology and enough funding to climate-proof agriculture so that we become food-secure,” said Mr.Ncube.

“Financing the transition to inclusive green economies comes with a cost and we need to finance this transition with the support of the international community and promoting investment in renewable and environmentally friendly sources of energy.”

Antonio Pedro, Deputy Executive Secretary at the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) indicated that since the last Conference of Ministers, the world has fallen deeper into economic fragility, climate change, conflict, and distrust. Sadly, Africa has not been spared from these global trends.

“We must accelerate the adoption of just and sustainable transitions, which require long-term structural changes and adequate investment,” said Mr. Pedro.

African countries, he said, can create their solutions to solve their problems. This should be a collective focus in the continued fight to reform global systems.

“We have, therefore, a unique opportunity to actively transform our countries by transitioning into inclusive, low carbon, and resource-efficient economies,” he stressed.

Rebecca Otengo, outgoing chair of the Conference of Ministers and, Ugandan Ambassador to Ethiopia, said countries should strive to implement the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) for the free movement of people, goods and services on the continent and noted countries need additional financing mechanisms to meet this growing demand and boost economic growth.

The ECA Deputy Executive Secretary highlighted the key transformative areas that can have catalytic and multiplier effects across all the SDGs.

First, is the urgent need to transform food systems by prioritizing the development of regional value chains, de-risking investment and fast-tracking the implementation of the AfCFTA. These measures will help to insulate the continent from global food security shocks.

Second, Africa needs to enhance energy access and affordability – less than two percent of global clean energy investments flow to Africa. There is need to embrace the transition to affordable renewable energy by making the most of the continent’s solar, wind and geothermal resources as well as green hydrogen potential.

Third, the continent must increase digital connectivity and inclusion to bridge the digital divide that prevents Member States from taking full advantage of the digital age and accessing technological solutions that are available elsewhere.

Fourth, education systems must be transformed. To do this, he said, Africa must undertake comprehensive foresight analysis that will inform the transformation of education systems and curriculums.

Fifth, Africa must create jobs and enhance social protection. Governments must pursue integrated, comprehensive industrial policies and private sector development strategies that create jobs for young people and improve the transition from school to work.

Lastly, Africa must embolden its response and collective action on climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution by implementing the Nairobi Declaration that acknowledged that climate change is the single greatest challenge facing humanity and the single biggest threat to all life on Earth.

The Committee of Experts meeting is a two-day event held from February 28-March 1, 2024, followed by side events on March 2-3, 2024.  The Ministerial Segment will run for two days on March 4-5.