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Statement by Prof Emmanuel Nnadozie at COMESA's 36th meeting of the Inter-Governmental Committee in Antanarivo, Madagascar, 10-12 October 2016

12 Oct, 2016

Distinguished delegates

The importance of industrialization to Africa’s development cannot be overemphasized. In fact, Industrialization has been on Africa’s Development Agenda since the early eighties. The vision adopted in the Lagos Plan of Action was that Africa will achieve economic development through regional cooperation and integration and the industrial sector was to play the role of engine of growth. About 35 years later, despite some progress, industrial development still remains poor in many African countries. However, the good thing about Africa being a late comer for industrialization is that we have now a better understanding and means to promote a more sustainable development by focusing on green growth strategies for our continent.

The fact that most African Regional Economic Communities (RECs) are characterized by low intra-regional trade is partly because of the low level of industrialization of their economies. Indeed, opportunity to deepen regional integration is greater where there is growth in manufacturing value added. The 2016 edition of the United Nation Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) Annual Report focuses on “The Role of Technology and Innovation in Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development”. I would like to share with you the first 2 key messages of the report which I found pertinent to the matter before the COMESA delegates today. The report recognizes that:

(1) Reaching advanced levels of inclusive and sustainable industrial development requires not only increasing incomes but also conscious efforts to sustain growth, promote social inclusiveness and move towards greener structural transformation—as well as managing the trade-offs between them.

(2) Industrialization, a major force in structural change, shifts resources from labour-intensive activities to more capital and technology-intensive activities. It will remain crucial to the future growth of developing countries.

I would like the delegates present here today to reflect on these 2 messages as the guiding principles in their deliberations. Industrialization is a MUST for Africa, but conscious effort is needed for greener structural transformation.

Now, how do we get there?

Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen

There is no easy answer to that question. But the UNIDO report indicated some elements on the way forward:

”Technology and capital equipment are the main drivers of both manufacturing growth and aggregate growth in developed and developing countries.

And more importantly,

“Technological capabilities are strengthened by investing in human capital, institutions, improving innovation systems and upgrading industrial clusters and global value chains”.

Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen

That is why ACBF’s new Strategy aims to bring about Skilled People and Strong Institutions to Transform Africa. As a capacity brokering institution, the Foundation will continue to play its role as a strategic partner of African countries, and especially the COMESA member States, regional and pan-African institutions. It will focus more on strengthening transformative and implementation capacities, to support achievement of the objectives of the 10-year plan of Agenda 2063 and the SDGs. Going forward and for the next 5 years, the Foundation’s work will evolve around 4 strategic pillars, namely:

Pillar 1:       Enabling effective delivery of continental development priorities.

Pillar 2:       Supporting countries to achieve tangible development results.

Pillar 3:       Enhancing private sector and civil society contributions to sustainable development

Pillar 4:       Leveraging knowledge and learning to increase development effectiveness.

ACBF will deliver on these pillars through combining 5 Service Lines,

  • First, ACBF will provide Resource Mobilization Services for capacity development in Africa. This will include funding arrangements that do not necessarily pass through the Foundation.
  • Second, ACBF will provide Capacity Development Advisory Services which will include capacity needs assessment, capacity building strategies and capacity building interventions. 
  • Third, ACBF will continue to nurture Innovation in Capacity Development which will include investment in innovative and catalytic capacity development initiatives that could be leveraged on for scaling up high impact interventions.
  • Fourth, ACBF will continue to provide Knowledge Services, with the publication of the Africa Capacity Report. This will include strategies to improve policy recommendations uptake, as well as a clearinghouse and helpdesk.
  • Fifth, ACBF will continue to Invest in Capacity Development initiatives which will support evidence-based policy making and human and institutional capacity strengthening.

Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen

The ACBF has been promoting the regional integration agenda since its inception with support to the African Union Commission (AUC) and RECs as well as financing regular surveys of the capacity needs of African RECS. The report of the last survey will be published by the end of 2016. These surveys have helped understand better the key challenges facing each REC and the overall coordination issues at continental level, and offered recommendations to address them.

In 2014, the theme of the ACBF flagship report, The African Capacity Report (ACR) was on “The Capacity Imperatives for Regional Integration”. Key messages of the report were that:

Despite fundamental problems in the design of the type of integration, there is widespread support for integration in Africa. The reality is that regional integration is not a choice but a must for Africa. Building bigger, more integrated sub regional markets that are deeply embedded in the global economy is one of the most urgent tasks if Africa is to sustain its recent economic performance.

Therefore, regional integration continues to hold a central place in the continent's quest for economic transformation and sustainable socioeconomic progress, especially in the face of new developments such as the Post -2015 Development Agenda, Africa Agenda 2063, and the rising economic might of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa)—as well as more traditional aspects such as Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) negotiations.

Critical capacities are needed for ensuring good governance, human rights, political stability, peace, and security; generating effective socioeconomic policy analysis and management; building and fully using human capacities; developing entrepreneurial capacities for public and private sector management; building and using physical infrastructural capacities; maximizing natural resources and diversifying African economies into processing and manufacturing; strengthening capacities in support of food security and self-sufficiency; and mobilizing and allocating domestic and external financial resources. These are placing heavy demands on RECs. The experiences of the European Union, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the North American Free Trade Agreement and other frontier RECs have demonstrated how geographic regions can create conditions for shared growth and prosperity.

At the moment, the capacity to implement regional cooperation and integration is grossly inadequate. Previous capacity building approaches have not produced the requisite capacities to develop the RECs. This dearth threatens the RECs' ability to achieve their goals. Many protocols have been signed but remain unimplemented, due to ineffective and inadequate implementation capacity. In some RECs where capacity exists, it is neither optimally used nor sufficiently nurtured. The report made some recommendations that are being considered by the RECs.

Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen

 ACBF has been providing support to several RECs to strengthen their institutional capacities for research coordination, policy analysis and policy formulation which is a key function in the integration process. As of today, ACBF has invested nearly 30 million United States Dollar in capacity building initiatives in the AUC and African RECs.

Support to the COMESA Secretariat has reached a total commitment of US$ 4.5 million in grants to support the establishment of a research unit within the Secretariat and for skills development and competencies of the Secretariat and member States’ experts in trade policy analysis and trade negotiations.

The initial support of US$ 1.5 million made significant contribution through equipping and training staff in Trade, Customs and Monetary, Investment Promotion and Private Sector Development, IT and Library divisions. COMESA is now operating at a much higher level of efficiency as a result of the Project. The computerization of the Library had beneficial effect both at the Secretariat and in facilitating access of Member States to important information.

Building on the achievements and lessons learnt in the implementation of the initial intervention, ACBF is currently supporting a second phase project focusing on “Enhancing Capacity of the COMESA Secretariat to Support Economic and Trade Policy Analysis and Research”. A grant of US$ 3,000,000 (three million United States Dollars) was approved bythe ACBF Executive Board in December 2010 to support the project.  

The project has enhanced the capacity of the COMESA Secretariat and Member States in economic, trade policy analysis and research, which has fostered evidence-based policy decision by the COMESA Policy organs. It has strengthened the institutional capacity of the Secretariat to initiate, undertake and coordinate research which has led to establishment of the COMESA Research Forum that brings together stakeholders from government, academia, think tanks and private sector and provides a platform for reviewing and discussing various research papers, sharing knowledge and deliberating on empirical issues on trade and related matters within the context of regional integration. The Forum contributes to COMESA organs policy development and interventions on regional integration and trade development by putting together distinctive thoughts on how to achieve a more integrated region to enhance economic growth and poverty reduction in Eastern and Southern Africa. The first annual COMESA research forum was held in 2015 and the policy organs have recommended its institutionalization. The second Forum was recently held in June 2016. These are just some highlights on a few achievements of ACBF engagement with COMESA.

Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen

As you are all aware, the AU Agenda 2063 is being operationalized through a 10-year planning approach. As one can image the operationalization of such a plan that involve various stakeholders at national, regional and continental levels is quite challenging. The AUC has entrusted ACBF with the responsibility to help identify the capacity requirements for an effective implementation of the Agenda 2063 first 10 year plan.

In response, ACBF conducted a capacity needs assessment and the draft report highlighted some key challenges, namely: (i) .an heavy and complex continent’s institutional architecture; (ii) lack of clear mandates, duplicating roles, functions, and activities; (iii) inadequate legislative framework; (iv) governance issues; (v) inadequate funding and donor dependence; (vi) inadequate human capital for all RECs; (vii) inadequate soft skills such as trust; proactivity; problem-solving skills; results orientation; partnership-building attributes; negotiation/persuasive abilities; commitment to development outcomes; continuous high energy/commitment; accountability (for results, efficiency). The report also highlighted deficiencies in knowledge sharing and information access. The study made some important recommendations that are being considered by the stakeholders. ACBF is currently working with the AUC and the RECs on the development and implementation of concrete capacity development programmes in support of the 10-Year Plan.

Going forward, ACBF can leverage on the ongoing capacity building initiatives within COMESA and provide technical assistance to COMESA to help define the capacity requirements for the implementation of its industrial policy, the SME policy and develop capacity building interventions to respond to the capacity needs identified.

ACBF is proud of the cooperation it maintains with the AUC and RECs and hope this cooperation can be taken to a more strategic level in the near future.


The remarkable achievements ACBF has registered over the past 26 years is not by accident in our opinion. They have come through hard work, dedication, commitment, purposeful leadership, support from the member countries as well as productive partnership building.

Mr. Lamin Momodou MANNEH, Director, UNDP Regional Service Centre for Africa , ,

The recognition of ACBF as the African Union’s Specialized Agency for Capacity Development launches the beginning of a new era for capacity building by ACBF, which will require an appropriate level of political commitment and financial support from all stakeholders.

H.E. Erastus Mwencha, Chair, ACBF Executive Board , ,

Ghana’s partnership with ACBF is a tremendous blessing for us and therefore the opportunity for Ghana to host the 26th ACBF Board of Governors Meeting is something that we treasure. 

Hon Ken Ofori Atta – Minister of Finance, Ghana , ,

Africa needs ACBF as much, probably more now, than at the time it was created in 1991.

Hon. Goodall Gondwe, Chair of the ACBF Board of Governors and Minister of Finance – Malawi , ,

ACBF has been granted the status of a specialized agency because of the potential to transform Africa through capacity development.


H.E. Thomas Kwesi Quartey, Deputy Chairperson, AU Commission , ,
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