Economists, academics call for Africa to use natural resources for green growth

28 Oct 2011

Addis Ababa  - Africa should unleash its immense natural resource wealth to pursue sustainable economic growth and development, said economists, academics and UN officials in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, at the conclusion of the 2011 African Economic Conference.

Hosted by the African Development Bank, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)  and the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the conference is a major annual forum that brings together high level officials, development actors, scholars and experts in economics and related subjects to exchange knowledge and seek solutions for challenges facing the African continent.

This year, the participants noted that despite a decade of solid progress, including impressive rates of economic growth, the continent faces challenges in making growth more broadly shared, creating employment and embarking on long-term and sustainable human development.

“Making the growth process more inclusive and sustainable are two objectives that must go hand in hand,” said Tegegnework Gettu, Director of UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Africa.

This would mean creating resilient, low-carbon economies that contribute to global climate change mitigation efforts, and generate economic and business opportunities, including new employment prospects, boosting trade that benefits all Africans.

The Conference participants also recommended that to achieve green growth, the region must begin to invest in its renewable and clean energy resources, make sustainable use of its natural resources such as land and forests, and capitalize on new opportunities to promote sustainable agriculture.

To achieve those objectives, Africa will need access to financing, technology and capacity-building.

“African economies need better access to various sources of international funding, to  help them create more sustainable economies, and green and inclusive growth on the whole continent,” said Mthuli Ncube, Chief Economist of the African Development Bank (AfDB), which supports the future establishment of an African Green Fund for this purpose.

Attracting interest from public and private institutions will also be key. This would be facilitated by generating a market environment that is conducive to technological innovation and investment in promising new sectors.

Participants called on African governments and public institutions to play a key role in creating that enabling environment, adding that practical steps were required to advance sustainable development.

“Radical changes would be required in behaviour from governments, firms and consumers and matched by sufficient financial resources if this approach is to succeed,” said Abdoulie Janneh, Executive Secretary of UNECA.

Contacts

African Development Bank
Penelope Pontet
Tel : +216 71 10 12 50  -  +216 24 66 36 96
e-mail: p.pontetdefouquieres@afdb.org

United Nations Economic Commission for Africa
Sophia Denekew
Tel: +251-11-544-50 98
e-mail: denekews@uneca.org

United Nations Development Programme
Nicolas Douillet
Tel:  +1 212 906-5937 
e-mail: nicolas.douillet@undp.org