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ECA Chief: Africa No Longer A Development Challenge

Executive Secretary, Dr. Carlos Lopes, of the Economic Commission for Africa.

Executive Secretary, Dr. Carlos Lopes, of the Economic Commission for Africa.

Africa is no longer a development challenge but a development opportunity, says Economic Commission for Africa’s Executive Secretary, Dr. Carlos Lopes.

In an interview with the VOA, Lopes said the forthcoming Financing for Development Conference presents a great opportunity for the continent’s leaders to advance their agenda as the world discusses the post-2015 agenda.

“We are very busy with the Financing for Development conference because it’s a great opportunity for Africa,” he said.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will expire this year, and in July, world leaders will meet in the Financing for Development conference in Addis Ababa to discuss how the United Nations will finance development efforts for the next 15 years.

Lopes said in discussing the post-2015 agenda, Africa should ensure it pushes its own agenda "because it’s a huge negotiation for the next 15 years."

“We are going to have that big conference and Africans are now in a position that is very different from 15 years ago,” he said, adding that “we are no longer a development challenge, we are a development opportunity and that makes a hell of a difference.”

Lopes said so much is happening on the ground in terms of negotiations, for example on climate change, trade and other issues.

“What really counts is not for the Africans just to tag themselves along all these different agendas but ought to have their own,” he said.

“And their own is Agenda 2063, the vision, and now we need the planning mechanism for the next 10 years.”

Agenda 2063 is Africa’s development agenda that was adopted by the African Union seeking, among other issues, to eliminate poverty on the continent through massive infrastructural and developmental projects.

Lopes said another highlight for the Economic Commission for Africa this year is the launch of Africa’s Social Development Index.

He said the index gives a lot of weight to the contribution of women to the continent’s development.

“It’s something that is not normally measured so we are very proud of this development,” said Lopes.

The ECA, he said, is this year also keen on linking the issue of agriculture with the issue of gender, in particular as the majority of the continent’s populace continues to rely on the primary sector with women carrying out most of the activities.