Africa: 56th ECA Session, Zim’s Free Takeaways for Africa

Kaelin Choto — For decades, African nations have strived for economic independence as a means to free themselves from the economic vices that have hindered meaningful progress and collective production.

While there have been some successes, much work remains to be done to achieve true economic freedom.

Zimbabwe has been an active proponent to this school of thought given the brunt experience with deliberate and illegal economic embargoes she has had to deal with over the past two decades.

Nevertheless, the 56th Session of the Economic Commission African (ECA) Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development to be held in Victoria Falls soon, becomes the latest premier podium for Africa to cross pollinate ideas on stirring around her economic fortunes.

Zimbabwe will host the critical conference in Victoria Falls from February 28 to March 5, 2024, which will run under the theme; “Financing the transition to inclusive green economies in Africa: imperatives, opportunities and policy options.”

The honour for Zimbabwe to host African Ministers of Finance comes at an opportune time when Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion, Professor Mthuli Ncube, was crowned the best Finance Minister in Africa for the year 2023. Certainly, Africa has a lesson or two to pick from Zimbabwe.

Victoria Falls, the host city of the conference presents a plethora of takeaways for Africa.

The city has rapidly developed as both a tourist destination and an economic hub as evidenced by the Second Republic’s necessitation of the launch of the Victoria Falls Stock Exchange (VFEX).

The VFEX’s existence speaks to ECA’s theme of financing transition into green economies.

In that regard, on October 25, last year, VFEX kick started an awareness campaign in preparation for carbon trading on the exchange, a development that also speaks to the rapid growth of commercial activities in the resort destination.

Thus, Zimbabwe is leading the game in green economy.

The country’s agricultural sector is also booming as evidenced by the production of surplus wheat, efforts towards food security at family, communal and national level.

This includes Pfumvudza scientific capacity utilisation of small communal farming lands and the smart agriculture which Government adopted at national level.

Ahead of the conference, Prof Ncube took time to dish out a few lessons to Africa in a press conference recently held in South Africa.

He urged his fellow Finance Ministers to desist from granting tax rebates to mining companies and offering them Special Economic Zones.

He punctuated his clarion call by insisting that among the imperatives, African governments ought to push for beneficiation, an exercise they can commence via wide consultations.

Delving into carbon credits, Prof Ncube advised that the best way African countries could ensure wide spectrum of growth would be by also widely consulting on feasible domestic frameworks.

This is inclusive of engaging specific and reputable auditors who can authenticate real and final buyers that pay more.

He added that it was also imperative that locals where a particular economic activity is being carried out directly benefit from the proceeds.

Thus, the conference will also provide a platform to attract public and private investments towards green initiatives, potentially unlocking new funding streams for sustainable development projects across Africa.

Moreover, the discussions could lead to the creation or improvement of national and regional policy frameworks that support the transition to green economies.

These policies will encourage green investments, promote sustainable practices and create new economic opportunities.

Additionally, the 56th session of UNECA would strengthen regional co-operation.

Regional partnerships will have an opportunity to share resources, expertise and technologies for climate change.

By prioritising environmental sustainability, economic inclusivity and innovative solutions, African nations can pave the way for a more prosperous, resilient and equitable future. One of the key takeaways from the session would be the emphasis on leveraging technology to accelerate Africa’s development trajectory.

Zimbabwe, recognising the transformative power of digital innovation, is expected to showcase its efforts to bridge the digital divide and harness the potential of e-commerce.

By sharing its success stories and lessons learned, Zimbabwe will also inspire other African countries to embrace digital transformation as a driver of economic empowerment and social inclusion.

Recently, the Economic Commission for Africa executive secretary, Claver Gatete, said the conference would aim to infuse climate financing and technological advancement to forge solutions to the economic challenges faced by African states.

He added that technology should promote and improve achievement of Africa’s Agenda 2063 and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Thus, in the years to come, as Africa embarked on its journey towards Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals, the impact of Zimbabwe’s 56th ECA Session would be felt in every corner of the continent.

Zimbabwe’s generosity, leadership and commitment to Africa’s shared prosperity would remain etched in the annals of history, serving as a beacon of hope and inspiration for generations to come.

As a nation with a large informal sector, Zimbabwe could have an opportunity to share its experiences in formalising activities and integrating them into the mainstream economy.