UNDP and UNITAR invite African decision makers for strategic debate on Africa’s challenges to be integrated into the global economy

December 2011, Dakar, Senegal – The international conference on "Emerging Partners and Africa: Key Trade and Investment Issues" organized jointly by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) in Dakar, Senegal on 13 and 14 December 2011 brought together 175 delegates from over 30 African countries and institutions. Around 20 thought leaders and high-level experts from all regions of Africa, Europe, Brazil and from the largest African economy, South Africa, led the different discussions and debates which were organized around the following three thematic clusters: financing and South-South cooperation for development effectiveness, regional integration, and governance and leadership.

H.E. Abdoulaye Baldé, Minister of State, Minister of Mines, Industry, Agro-Industry and SMEs of the Republic of Senegal opened this high-level meeting. The UN Deputy Assistant Secretary-General and UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa (RBA) Deputy Director Mr. Babacar Cissé and the UN Assistant Secretary-General and Executive Director of UNITAR Mr. Carlos Lopes participated in the various discussions and debates which were the highlights of this conference.

Mr. Baldé asserted that he is convinced that Africa possesses "major assets" (by way of its vast natural resources and demographic potential) to become the master of its own destiny and to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

According to Mr. Cissé, this conference represents a "new and invigorating step" towards improving policies and strategies of South-South partnerships and meeting the challenges of better integration of Africa into gobal markets.

Through an interactive and innovative approach which allowed participants to develop a better understanding of the challenges of Africa’s integration into the global economy and to refine policies and strategies with a view to facilitating South-South partnerships, this conference attracted strong interest from African and international media. In addition to the official media partner Jeune Afrique Group, journalists from Radio Télévision Sénégal, TV5, Africa7, Radio France Internationale and several large Senegalese newspapers covered the sessions.

The following conclusions emerged from the two days of debate and discussion.

The need for South-South cooperation was reaffirmed and avenues for enhanced cooperation identified. It appeared that African countries must be better prepared to fully benefit from partnerships with new and emerging partners, to develop their trade, learn from their experiences, benefit from transfer of technology and accelerate their development processes.

Mr. Lopes stressed that Africa needs "sound leadership" to develop a shared vision and seize opportunities offered by emerging countries. Many African experts deplore that fact that China, like all other large emerging countries, has an Africa policy, rather than the other way around.

Strengthening South-South cooperation also includes the enhancement of intra-African trade between regions which are distant from a geographic point of view. But above all it requires innovative and new funding for joint development projects which must involve local actors at all stage of the process. From this perspective the appropriation of development projects by the actors seems to be a key condition for successful implementation.

Delegates also noted with satisfaction that Africa’s role was not limited to that of a victim of the global crisis. However, there are serious issues which must be addressed, such as energy supply, the current deadlock of multilateral trade negotiations, food security, youth unemployment, etc. But at the same time the crisis creates additional opportunities for self-adjustment which will over the long run help Africa to better integrate into the global economy. It should be noted however that economic growth does not always translate into development. It is a requirement for development, but not sufficient on its own.

With regards to investment, national policies must be developed and improved but should above all fit within a larger and more ambitious regional framework, and ensure coherence with the countries’ individual undertakings at multilateral level.

Regional integration emerged as an essential and indispensable factor of development in Africa. The discussions underscored that great efforts towards harmonizing different integration processes are currently being made.

Finally it was also noted that meeting the challenge of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) now and after 2015 will depend to a large extent on the political will and innovation of African countries. In that context enlightened and consensus-based leadership of development strategies will be key, as well as availability of production factors and funding.

In the closing session of the conference, Mr. Babacar Cissé and Mr. Carlos Lopes reaffirmed the commitment of UNDP and UNITAR to continue and expand their partnership with the aim of assisting and supporting African countries on the path towards better integration into the global economy as well as equitable and sustainable development.

Conclusions and Outcomes document (PDF 129 KB)

For more information on UNDP in Africa, please visit:
http://www.undp.org/africa/

For more information about UNITAR, please visit:
http://www.unitar.org