By Staff Reporter
Following the multiple financial, health, and climate crises affecting Africa, countries should accelerate inclusive recovery efforts to boost economic growth, the Economic Commission for Africa’s Acting Executive Secretary, Mr. Antonio Pedro, has urged.
Speaking at a press briefing ahead of the 55th Session of the Economic Commission for Africa Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development (CoM 2023), Mr. Pedro said the impact of the shocks caused by COVID -19, the war in Ukraine and climate change have pushed more people into extreme poverty and have increased inequality worldwide.
“Africa is falling even further behind, with the continent now accounting for the highest proportion of the world’s poor of any region globally,” Mr. Pedro warned, emphasizing that the growing number of newly poor and vulnerable people makes it harder to close the gap between the rich and the poor.
“Recovery efforts must be pro-poor and inclusive, with a view to fostering a new social contract that offers equal opportunity for all,” he said, adding that, “It is important that our growth does not leave anyone behind and if we do so then the social contract that is key to have stability and prosperity will be completely disrupted.”
Mr. Pedro indicated that pro-poor and inclusive recovery must be deliberately incorporated in the design and implementation of policies, including by securing the input of all stakeholders such as Small and Medium Enterprises in such processes.
The 55th Session of ECA’s Committee of Experts of the Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, a statutory meeting of the ECA will be held from 15 to 17 March 2022. It will be followed by the Ministerial Segment of the Conference on 20 and 21 March 2023.
The Conference brings together Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development from African member States, governors of central banks, entities of the United Nations system and pan-African financial institutions.
In addition, the conference will also attract African academic and research institutions, development partners, intergovernmental organizations and other key stakeholders to discuss statutory issues pertaining to the function of ECA, engage and exchange views on economic and social development in Africa as well as take stock of progress on regional integration and other issues pertinent to the continent.
This year, the Committee of Experts and the Ministerial Segment will convene under the theme ‘Fostering recovery and transformation in Africa to reduce inequalities and vulnerabilities.
“The ability of African countries to effectively tackle poverty and inequality is also severely constrained given declining economic growth, narrowing fiscal space, rising debt, commodity shocks and tightening global financial conditions,” said Mr. Pedro, warning that Africa faces a higher risk of missing the poverty and inequality targets set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Agenda 2063.
Lamenting that the COVID-19 and the Ukraine conflict have wiped some of the development gains made in the last decade in terms of economic growth, social inclusion and poverty reduction, Mr. Pedro said Africa’s trade flows and supply chains were also disrupted. As a result, it was pertinent for Africa to promote local solutions. He said for its part Africa has reacted positively to the impacts of COVID-19 with the creation of the Africa Exchange Trade Platform (ATEX) digital platform to boost trade in critical commodities under the AfCFTA.
Mr. Pedro said the Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development aims to renew focus and action on reducing poverty, inequality and other factors that have left Africans vulnerable to these scourges.
He noted that Africa has considerable opportunities to build strong, resilient and competitive economies through accelerated implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area, development of carbon credit markets, fostering the emergency of regional value chains in the battery and electric vehicle subsector, to name a few.
Speaking at the same press conference, Second Vice-Chair of the 54th Bureau of the ECA and Zimbabwean Ambassador to Ethiopia and Permanent Representative to the African Union and ECA, Ms. Sophia Nyamudeza said that the theme of CoM 2023 was timely as African countries are recovering from COVID-19 and were experiencing world food crisis and suffering climate change shocks.
WHO IS ANTONIO PEDRO?
Antonio M.A. Pedro is a mineral exploration geologist with more than 40 years of broad experience of and exposure to development issues and management at national, sub-regional, and continental levels. He joined the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in 2001, where he was (2016-2021) the Director of ECA’s Sub-regional Office for Central Africa (SRO-CA), based in Yaounde, Cameroon, until his appointment as Deputy Executive Secretary (Programme Support) of ECA in October 2021. For 7 years (2009-2016), he occupied the position of Director of the ECA Sub-regional Office for Eastern Africa (SRO-EA), in Kigali, Rwanda. Prior to joining ECA, he was the Director General of the Southern and Eastern African Mineral Centre (SEAMIC), in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Managing Director of several companies in Mozambique and Deputy National Director of the country’s Geological Survey. Since 1 September 2022, he is the Acting Executive Secretary of ECA.
In his capacity as Director of ECA’s SRO-CA, he played a leading role in the design of the flagship initiative “Made in Central Africa” and formulation of the Douala Consensus (adopted on 26 September 2017) on economic diversification (through resource-driven and trade induced industrialisation), which has become the main framework informing the formulation and implementation of economic diversification and industrial development strategies in Central Africa, a pathway to reducing the exposure of local economies to external shocks arising out of their excessive dependence on the export of commodities. He equally positioned SRO-CA to become the thought leader on economic diversification in the sub-region as reflected by the fact that the Office became the leader of relevant pillars on economic transformation and economic diversification of the work of the UNCT in Cameroon, Congo, and Gabon as wells as by the successful formulation of the ECCAS/CEMAC framework for economic diversification in Central Africa. He also headed the deployment of innovative GIS-enabled hot spot analysis of the socio-economic potential of Central African transport corridors to support spatial planning, decentralisation, industrial development, and localisation of special economic zones, with deep dives in Cameroon and DRC. He also launched Trade Demand and Supply Management DSM) decision support tools to identify export opportunities of Central African countries to support the implementation of the AfCTA. Moreover, he successfully led the organisation of the DRCAfrica Business Forum aimed at deepening DRC and Africa’s participation in the battery and electric vehicle value chain. In addition, through the work on mainstreaming natural capital accounting in national accounts in Gabon, he raised the awareness of the importance of natural capital (trough carbon credit mechanisms, green and blue bonds, etc) as a source of innovative and alternative financing.
While at SRO-EA, he provided thought leadership and helped elucidate pathways and design practical tools and integrated solutions on issues of sustainable development and structural transformation, governance of natural resources, tourism, blue economy, ICT and infrastructure development, and regional integration. To this end, he introduced new workstreams on the Blue Economy (including the publication of the African Blue Economy: Policy Handbook); guided the formulation the Business Plan for the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) Regional Initiative Against the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources; spearheaded work on tourism leading to the adoption of IGAD’s Tourism Master Plan, a reference framework which is informing work on tourism in countries such as Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, and Ethiopia; supported the formulation of Rwanda’s first Science, Technology and Innovation Policy, and the establishment of the Rwanda Innovation Fund, to name a few. His work on energy covered coordination of efforts towards the formulation of the East Africa Community (EAC) Regional Energy Security Policy Framework. The same effort was also deployed to develop country Energy Security Policy Frameworks in all the EAC Partner States. He participated in the formulation of EAC Vision 2050.
In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, he spearheaded the formulation of the Africa Mining Vision (AMV) which was adopted by the African Union Summit of Heads of State and Government in February 2009. The vision advocates for “transparent, equitable and optimal exploitation of mineral resources to underpin broad-based sustainable growth and socio-economic development”. He played a leading role in the establishment of the African Mineral Development Centre (AMDC), as a one-stop centre to anchor the implementation of the AMV Action Plan. Of special relevance was the leading role he played in the drafting and identification of issues for the February 2007 Big Table on “Managing Africa’s Natural Resources for Growth and Poverty Reduction”, jointly organized by UNECA and the African Development Bank (AfDB). The 2007 Big Table agreed on a new compact and platform for action to improve the development outcomes of mineral resources exploitation in Africa. The meeting was a landmarked event which has generated a body of new ideas that is spearheading change processes in the sector. This included a call to expand the focus of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) beyond revenue transparency to cover other aspects of resource governance, such as licensing, procurement of goods and services, ownership and revenue management throughout the entire minerals value chain. The EITI Standard 2016 captures some of the elements enumerated above including on the disclosure of information on beneficiary ownership. As a follow-up to the recommendations of the Big Table, he established and led the International Study Group on the Review of Africa’s Mineral Regimes (ISG), a major ECA initiative to ensure that Africa’s mineral resources fully contribute to the socio-economic development of the continent in a sustainable manner.
As Chief of Infrastructure and Natural Resources Development at ECA (2001-2009), he led the work of the Commission on mining, water, transport, and energy development. As such, he was responsible for promoting regional policy harmonisation and alignment; developing conceptual frameworks to support integrated infrastructure and natural resources development and to strengthen the business fundamentals of regional projects and their ability to scale-up multiplier effects and foster linkages across multiple value chains; spearheading policy analysis, raising awareness and building consensus on emerging issues; and disseminating best practices, building capacity and rendering advisory services in the fields of mining, water, transport, and energy development. He supported the implementation of NEPAD’s infrastructure initiatives including the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA). In addition, he led ECA’s work on the implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action for Landlocked Developing Countries, the UN Road Safety Programme and in rendering support to the African Union Commission (AUC), RECs and IGOs, Energy Power Pools, River Basin Organizations and other stakeholders. These included studies on “Effective provision of regional public goods: case of rationalization and coordination of transport policies and programmes”, Status of transport development in Africa”, and “Unleashing energy access in Africa: Fostering rural energy for sustainable development”.
As Director General of the Southern and Eastern African Mineral Centre (SEAMIC), he led the modernisation and corporate restructuring process of the institution. This included the introduction of quality management systems; performance related appraisal and reward systems; strategic business and incubation units; design of services to assist the development of small and medium enterprises (SMES), particularly cottage lapidaries; and the introduction of performance contracts between SEAMIC and its member States with a view to improving the delivery of services. In addition, he contributed to the establishment of a sub-regional geoscience data exchange mechanism and to the provision of high-level specialized training to geoscientists from the sub-region. Equally important was the work to raise awareness about the importance of industrial minerals in Africa. This culminated in the establishment of the Africa Industrial Minerals Association (AIM).
He has been involved in the promotion of regional integration and cooperation on the continent since 1984. In 1984, he played an active role in the definition of the first mining programme of action of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Later, he also contributed actively to the formulation of SADC Mining Protocol. This formed the basis for collaboration and cooperation between SADC member States on mineral development issues.
Overall and for decades, he has been at the forefront of mineral policy analysis and formulation. He has published or led the publication of major studies and/or policy papers and think pieces, including a) Compendium on Best Practices in Small-scale Mining in Africa; b) Training Materials on Management of Mineral Wealth; c) Improving Public Participation in the Sustainable Development of Mineral Resources in Africa; d) Minerals Cluster Policy Study in Africa: Pilot Studies of South Africa and Mozambique; (e) Mainstreaming Mineral Wealth in Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategies; (f) Harnessing the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) Potential to Advance Mineral Resources Governance in Africa, an argument on the importance of building domestic accountability and appetite for good governance; and (g) Minerals and Africa’s Development: The International Study Group Report on Africa’s Mineral Regimes.
He is a member of the Leadership Council of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), Co-Chair of the SDSN Thematic Network on the Good Governance of Extractive and Land Resources (TG10), a faculty member and visiting lecturer of the “Extractive Industry and Sustainable Development Executive Training Programme” at the Columbia Centre on Sustainable Investment (CCSI) at Columbia University as well as a former lecturer on Mineral Policy and Contract Negotiations at the United Nations African Institute for Economic Development and Planning (UNIDEP) and Honorary Fellow of the Graduate School of Natural Resources Law, Policy and Management of the University of Dundee, Scotland. He is also a member of the Board of Directors and Advisory Groups of several institutions and global initiatives including the Advisory Board of CCSI, RE-SOURCING – A Global Stakeholder Platform for Responsible Sourcing, Editorial Advisory Board of the International Journal, Mineral Economics, and of the Editorial Board of “Mineral Choices”, an online education platform. He is a former member of the International Resources Panel (IRP), Global Tailings Review, Global Agenda Council on the Future of Mining and Metals of the World Economic Forum (WEF), the Strategic Management Advisory Group (SMAG) of the World Bank hosted Communities and Small-scale Mining (CASM), and of the Advisory Boards of the Diamond Development Initiative (DDI), and the International Centre for Training and Exchanges in Geosciences (CIFEG).
Through collaboration with WEF, the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) , UNSDSN, IRP, the Global Battery Alliance (GBA) and other platforms, he advocates Africa’s positions at the global level and contributes to shaping global thinking and discourse on development issues of concern to Africa and the world, especially those related to sustainable development and shared value creation, geopolitics of resource extraction and global resource security, the future of mining, conflict minerals, corporate social responsibility, responsible mining, local content, resource-based industrialisation and linkages development, markets and commodity prices, contract negotiations, illicit financial flows, ASM and international governance architecture in fragile terrains (e.g. sea-bed resources). With the CCSI, Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI), the World Bank and SDSN he contributed to the production of a massive open online course (MOOC) on Natural Resources for Sustainable Development: The Fundamentals of Oil, Gas and Mining Governance.
His current research interest is broad in nature and focuses on economic diversification and industrial policy as well as mineral resources governance and the interface between mineral resources exploitation and the SDGs. Through his paper “Towards a sustainable development licence to operate for the extractive sector” he introduced the concept of Sustainable Development Licence to Operate (SDLO) to the world. He is a co-lead author of the IRP report “Mineral resource governance in the 21st Century: gearing extractive industries towards sustainable development”, which is anchored on the SDLO. The report assesses the level of effectiveness and impact of existing initiatives and other instruments governing the extractive industry, explores the pre-requisites of an effective governance framework, develops the proposal for the SDLO framework, and examines the implications of the SDLO framework for policy-making at the local, national, regional and international levels.