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Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) acting executive secretary Antonio Pedro has called for a “fairer and more just” global financial architecture that responds to the needs of the most vulnerable.

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Monday’s call by Pedro comes as African countries are stewing in debt and half of the continent’s population is either poor or face the risk of falling into poverty.

“Currently, many countries simply cannot access international financial markets because of rising interest rates, and existing debt relief mechanisms do not work well for us,” Pedro said at the 41st meeting of the Committee of Experts of the Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development.

He said UN secretary general António Guterres has called for the SDG Stimulus of about US$500bn per year, focusing on tackling the high cost of debt and rising risks of debt distress, scale up affordable long-term financing for development, and expand contingency financing to countries in need.

Pedro said recent crises underscored the need for a paradigm shift and it is “our generation’s responsibility” to ensure that Africa embraces this change and harnesses the continent’s potential.

“We must ensure the necessary investments in sustainably building up capital in critical assets – including human, infrastructure, and natural – to provide us with the needed environment to achieve the ambitions of the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063,” he said.

He said Africa has to finance its development and this means that it has to unlock the potential of home-grown solutions by getting the macroeconomic fundamentals right.

The right domestic policy actions can move us from less than 17% tax revenue to GDP ratio towards levels currently seen in Latin America and Caribbean countries at 21.9%, Pedro said.

He said an aggressive pursuit of sustainable industrialisation and economic diversification could transform Africa’s natural resources into tangible benefits for its people, the battery and electric value chain being a case in point.

Pedro said the African Continental Free Trade Area African Continental Free Trade Area can drive the continent towards self-sufficiency by bringing supply chains closer to home in essential products such as medicines, food and fertilisers.

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