On the occasion of the 9th African Development Forum (ADF) in Marrakech, Morocco, the African Development Bank spoke with Abdalla Hamdok, Deputy Executive Secretary, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, on the way forward for development.
Question:During the meeting on a new paradigm in health financing, we noted in your intervention that research has to be context-driven to expect positive outcomes. Can you tell us a little more about the outlook for Africa in this regard?
Abdalla Hamdok: On context-specificity of research for positive outcomes, Africa continues to compare very unfavourably with other regions of the world in the area of research, including in the area of epidemiological research. Ground-breaking research findings on diseases that directly impact on African populations continue to be initiated and executed from outside the continent and then exported into the continent with little regard for the context and realities of the continent. This, for example, was the case with HIV anti-retro-viral drugs which were introduced to the continent without consideration of affordability.
Another issue that underscores the importance of research on the continent is the outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease and the weak response of African health systems. In this particular regard, it is useful to note that the current EBV is the sixth or seventh. Sadly, though, the continent was unable to embark on homegrown research for the development of a vaccine or drugs to prevent or cure it.
Overall, I would contend that the continent needs to establish centres of excellence in research that would take a lead on producing ground-breaking research outputs for uptake by countries.
Q: In terms of development, the African Development Bank and UN-ECA have played an important role in Africa’s success stories. How do you feel the two institutions pioneering fast-tracking resources for a healthier and wealthier Africa?
A.H.: On the role of the ECA and AfDB, on Africa's development, it is correct to state that the two institutions have been natural and strategic partners in the continent's economic development efforts, with each of them bringing their respective comparative advantages to bear. This has been in close collaboration with the other major Pan-African institution, the African Union. It is therefore only natural that these Pan-African institutions work very closely on the critical issue of harnessing financial resources for Africa's transformation. We are aware of AfDB's expertise in this area and we are confident that they will continue to play a leading role in these efforts. Their insightful contributions to discussions at various panels of the ongoing ADF testify to this.
Q: To what extent can African governments draw from Africa50 Fund as an innovative solution to fast-track resources for the continent transformation?
A.H.: On leveraging the Africa50 Fund as an innovative source of financing Africa's development, I will want to begin by stating that the ECA was among the Pan-African institutions, which jointly endorsed the Africa50 Fund in July of 2013 as Africa's vehicle to facilitate large-scale mobilization of resources for Africa's infrastructure development. At the July 2013 meeting, the Pan-African institutions pledged to work together towards building the fund. I would want to state that on the part of ECA, this commitment remains very strong, in light especially of the recognition of the urgency to fill Africa's infrastructure gap as a first critical step to the transformation of its economies. The ongoing joint work by the ECA, AUC and AfDB on Agenda 2063, which is envisaged as a new long-term development blue print for the continent has come to further strengthen the imperative for resource mobilization. Agenda 2063 is accompanied by a resource-mobilization strategy, which among others taps on the strategies defined in the Africa50 Fund. We will therefore continue to encourage our member states to maximize the opportunities provided by the Africa50 Fund for the financing of their infrastructure.