On Tuesday in Addis Ababa, shortly before formal closing of the four-day event, the Economic Commission of Africa, ECA, Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, the session became almost uncontrollable when delegates challenged the announcement of Kingdom of Morocco as the host of the 52nd session.
The situation, which took almost two hours to resolve, almost took the shine off recommendations by the stakeholders on the theme of the 51st session: ‘African Continental Free Trade Area, fiscal space for jobs and economic diversification.
At one of the plenary sessions on Monday, delegates from Morocco had offered the country as the next host.
the offer had gone unchallenged, until the end of proceedings the following day when delegates from other countries, including Algeria, South Africa, amongst others, raised objection, asking for “rules of procedure” to be followed.
Incidentally, the rules of procedure, as captured in Article Two of the Conference, specified that the next host must be announced at the end of the preceding session.
The situation validated the Moroccan’s offer as no other country showed interest in hosting the event.
Earlier, the delegates had reaffirmed commitment to regional integration as a major driving force behind inclusive development on the continent.
The meeting also addressed key issues for the continent, including agriculture’s role in economic growth; financing infrastructure; tackling illicit financial flows; and an integrated strategy for the Sahel.
Commending the organisers for focusing on “real African issues”, Senior Knowledge Management Expert from the African Capacity Building Foundation, Dr. Robert Nantchouang, said the meeting successfully highlighted pressing issues related to the economic and integration agenda.
Executive Secretary of the ECA, Ms Vera Songwe reaffirmed the commitment of her organisation to support governments moving towards economic integration through its convening, thought process and operational functions.
Countries will now be required to ratify and implement the legal instruments of the AfCFTA agreement that would create a trade bloc with a combined gross domestic product of more than $3 trillion together with an additional 300,000 direct and two million indirect jobs, according to the AU.