The 2020 edition of the African Economic Conference, jointly organized by African Development Bank (AfDB), the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), is to hold in Addis Ababa from 1 to 3 December 2020.
Alternatively, if it is decided that, owing to the status of the Coronavirus pandemic, that gathering in Addis Ababa at that time would not be feasible, then the conference will instead take place in an online platform.
The theme of this year’s conference is “Africa beyond COVID-19: accelerating towards inclusive sustainable development.”
This theme, coming at a time when African countries are struggling with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, will bring together various stakeholders, including policymakers and researchers, to examine the socioeconomic impact of COVID-19 and the measures that are needed to mitigate and recover from the ill effects of the shock.
In particular, the conference will focus on how African countries can build resilience and be better prepared to deal with future shocks.
According to the organisers of the conference, the specific objectives of the conference are as follows:
• To promote knowledge management as an important driver of analysis, with a view to effective policy formulation, dialogue, implementation, monitoring and evaluation;
• To foster dialogue that promotes the exchange of ideas and innovative thinking among researchers, development practitioners and policymakers;
• To encourage and enhance evidence-based research on environmental, socioeconomic and policy issues related to the development of African economies;
• To provide an opportunity for young African researchers, Africans in the diaspora, and organizations to share knowledge with policymakers;
• To reflect on the importance of human capital and skills development for the continent and to build a road map for creating resilient, innovative and foresight-driven education systems;
• To serve as a platform for researchers, policymakers and private sector operators to meet and build consensus on modalities for regional and continental integration as a means of accelerating Africa’s inclusive and sustainable development.
Since its inception in 2006, the conference has fostered dialogue and the exchange of knowledge on a variety of issues and challenges that Africa has faced.
With the lingering negative impact of COVID-19 as a backdrop, researchers, policymakers and other participants will be urged to conduct analysis, learn from best practices from Africa countries and elsewhere, and provide policy recommendations on how African economies can accelerate progress towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and the aspirations of Agenda 2063.
The theme also reflects the consensus among the conference organizers that COVID-19 has exposed significant structural weaknesses in Africa’s development architecture.
If those weaknesses are not addressed, African countries are likely to experience a reversal in the development gains already achieved and will be unlikely to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and the aspirations of Agenda 2063. The consensus also underscores the importance of integrating a long-term perspective into current recovery efforts, by continuing to promote access to technology and infrastructure, good governance and regional integration, with a view to increasing productive capacities and creating the foundation for equitable and sustainable economic transformation.
Conference participants will identify enablers of, and obstacles to, a robust recovery from COVID-19, with a special focus on mitigating socioeconomic impacts, promoting a transformative recovery and accelerating progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals while leaving no one behind.
Participants will also be asked to examine the roles of technology, innovation, entrepreneurship, economic and social infrastructure, accountable and inclusive governance, trade and regional integration in Africa’s transformation to a brighter future.
The conference, therefore, offers a unique opportunity for participants to assess the capacity of countries to prepare for and deal with future emergencies, and to offer recommendations on how African countries can do a better job in rebuilding their economies and returning to a sustainable development path.
Diverse perspectives will be represented at the conference, which will be attended by researchers, policymakers, health professionals, development practitioners, young people and women from Africa and from around the world. The conference will provide a platform for established academics and young researchers to present their solution-oriented research to policymakers and decision-makers.
It is expected that at the end of the conference, policy recommendations will be made on strengthening Africa’s response to emergencies, enhancing resilience, expediting recovery from shock, and building back better within the framework of the United Nations decade of action for the Sustainable Development Goals.