Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) has in its new report named east Africa as one of the fastest growing regions in the World Particularly in Africa.
Presenting the Economic outlook report during the 22nd Meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts (ICE) in Kigali, Rwanda, the Acting Director of ECA in charge of Eastern Africa, Andrew Mold said despite many challenges the region is experiencing, Eastern region has made key progress especially in Improving the life Expectancy which has increased by 5.3 years over the past decades.
The region’s growth rate according to the director stands at 6.3% between 2013-2017 which doubles the African average.
“There are of course still many challenges – chief amongst them being the need for faster job creation for the rapidly growing population but on balance, progress has been impressive. Life expectancy is a good general indicator of living standards, and the pace of change is one of the fastest in history,” said Andrew.
The three-day meeting taking place in Kigali, Rwanda, gathers more than 250 economic stakeholders and decision makers of 14 countries in East Africa.( Burundi, Comoros, D.R. Congo, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Madagascar, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.)
By 2019, the region is expected to grow at 6.2%, due to sustained public and private investment, renewed optimism and the opening up of new trade opportunities under the AfCFTA.
Minister of Finance and Economic Planning of Rwanda, Dr. Uzziel Ndagijimana noted that “ In many aspects, the Eastern Africa region has been leading continental trends such as economic progress and social with life expectancy and other indicators improving a lot over the last decade.”
Amongst the challenges which the region should work on in order to achieve the 6.2% growth rate by 2019 are the impact of climate change on agricultural production, rising levels of debt in some countries, and peace and security concerns.
Outside the continent, the spectre of trade wars and moderating global demand could also impact on regional growth. At such a time, ECA argues that African countries should focus their attention on the more resilient and dynamic regional trading relations.
During the meeting which commenced on Tuesday the 2oth/November 2018 ,Giovanie Biha, ECA Deputy Executive Secretary said they are working with member States on the continent to ensure they make the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) a reality,
Ms. Biha said the ECA was helping countries across the continent to develop national AfCFTA implementation strategies.
“We will be setting up national dialogues so that governments, civil society and the private sector can come together to discuss the way forward,” she said.
The ICE2018 is being held under the theme: Implementing the African Continental Free Trade Area in Eastern Africa: From Vision to Action.