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Integration important for Africa’s growth and prosperity, says Egyptian Minister

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Vera Songwe

The High Level Policy Dialogue on Development in Africa started in Cairo Tuesday with Egypt’s Planning, Follow-up and Administrative Reform Minister, Hala ElSaid Younes stressing the importance of an integrated Africa.

In remarks to officially open the meeting, Ms. Younes said Egypt has always been interested in an integrated and prosperous Africa.

“We must remember the Lagos Plan of Action (LPA) and why it was important for Africa to come together and speak with one voice,” she said.

“Egypt has always been concerned about the continent’s issues – our economies and development. We will always cooperate with the African Union to ensure Egypt’s prosperity and the prosperity of other countries.”

The Lagos Plan of Action of 1980 was borne out of an overwhelming necessity to establish an African social and economic order primarily based on utilising to the full, the region ‘s resources in building self-reliant economies.

In adopting the LPA, national governments were responsible for implementing various strategies in their respective development plans to support the LPA’s goals. Regional bodies like the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and others, would provide technical assistance to member States to ensure progress was made.

Ms. Younes reminded top level African officials attending the HLPD, including ministers, why it was important for the continent to reflect on the Lagos Plan of Action and move to ensure the continent was fully integrated.

Her message comes at a time when over 48 countries have signed the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) that seeks to establish a free trade area seen as vital to the continent’s economic development.

The creation of the free trade area, billed as the world’s largest in terms of participating countries, comes after two years of negotiations, and is one of the African Union’s flagship projects for greater African integration.

Ms. Younes said Egypt was doing all it can to ensure it raises enough resources to fund the implementations of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and Agenda 2063 to ensure inclusive growth thereby uplifting the lives of all Egyptians.

Development planning, she said, was crucial and central to Egypt’s desire to achieve both agendas.

“Egypt takes the SDGs seriously and has put in place various mechanisms to ensure it implements them successfully. We have integrated both agendas in our development plans and have put in place programmes to help link budgeting and planning,” she said.

Finance

Egypt’s Finance Minister, Mohamed Maeat, also spoke in the opening ceremony.

He urged Africa’s Finance Ministers to leave no stone unturned as they seek to raise the billions needed annually by the continent to successfully implement the SDGs.

“We need inclusive transformation and sustainable development on our continent,” said Mr. Maeat, adding the successful implementation of Agendas 2030 and 2063 was crucial for the citizens of Africa as a whole. Human capital development, he said, was equally important in Africa’s journey towards leaving no-one behind.

Namibia’s Economic Planning Minister, Obeth Mbui, who’s also his country’s Planning Commission Director General, said the successful implementation of the SDGs will require enormous financial resources, and will therefore pose serious leadership, policy and strategy challenges for many countries in Africa.

“It is for this reason that well thought out reflections on this critical matter of our time should continuously be deliberated on at events of this nature. As member States, we are hopeful that the final outcome of our reflections here will inter alia shed light on the more concrete solutions to the challenges that will have to be decisively tackled if the SDGs are to record far better success than the millennium development goals,” he said.

The three-day HLPD is being held under the theme; Financing the Sustainable Development Goals in Africa: Strategies for Planning and Resource Mobilisation. The ECA and the Institute of National Planning in Egypt are hosting the meeting.