By Awa Ceesay
A three-day forum of the African Economic Congress, AEC, ended in Abuja, Nigeria last week.
he AEC convened brain boxes of the African economy, to share knowledge and practices in various fields under the theme building the Africa we want.
The congress brought together key leaders from Africa, the EU, Ecowas, private sector, academia, and civil society organisations to boost the dynamism of Africa to attain its growth. The deputy president of Kenya, William K Rutor, was also in attendance.
The programme addressed African Continental Free Trade, challenges and opportunities of doing business in Africa, building the knowledge economy for prosperity, agricultural revolution, energy independence in Africa, the role of the parliament, role of civil society in holding government accountable, changing the African narrative and empowering women in building the Africa we want.
African businesses currently face higher tariffs when trading within Africa. The AU said it is committed to eliminating tariffs as well as non-tariff barriers to intra African trade through agreements which will make it easier for African businesses to trade within African markets.
The former Speaker of the National Assembly, former deputy speaker of Ecowas Parliament and now an international consultant on gender, parliament and governance, Dr Fatoumata Jahumpa Ceesay, spoke on the role of parliament, women empowerment and the youth in building the Africa we want.
She told the delegates: “Issues related to democracy and good governance around the world are fast-growing. Democracy and good governance are not a luxury but a fundamental requirement for socio-economic progress. Parliament as one key of the institutions in a democratic system of governance has a vital role in providing democracy in Africa and the people have their roles in ensuring that parliament performs to address the gaps between the policy formulation and implementation to ensure no country is left behind as we embark on the task of building the Africa we want.”
She also addressed the issue of women, saying they have long suffered stigmatisation and marginalisation globally.
“Women make enormous contributions to the economy through businesses of different shapes and sizes. Research shows that it could take 202 years for women to earn as much as men, and 108 years to close the global gender gap at the current rate. Closing the gap is vital if African countries wish to be able to be competitive in a fast-changing world,” she posited.
She further observed that African countries need to adopt and implement regional and national plans, legislations, policies, strategies, budgets and justice mechanisms in order to strengthen women’s economic empowerment.
A trained journalist, Jahumpa said Africa has undergone several socio–economic changes over the past decades, which continues to impact demands for accountability and transparency across the continent.
“The language of transparency and accountability has gained a new moment in a continent where secrecy and impunity have traditionally dominated the political system. The success of development and democratic governance depend on an active, capable and healthy civil society which is why we need to educate and expose the youth for the future development of Africa,” she stated.
The former presidential;l spokeswoman and press secretary said the role of CSOs is to play a watchdog role in the development process and ensure that governments perform their primary responsibility.”