The UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Sub-regional Offices for North and West Africa are holding, in partnership with the Government of Ghana, the second Joint Intergovernmental Committee of Senior Officials and Experts (ICSOE) for North and West Africa on 1-3 November 2023 in Accra, Ghana. This year’s edition of the ICSOE focuses on the theme: “Investing in the Energy Transition, Food Security, and Regional Value Chains for Sustainable Development in North and West Africa.”
Twenty-two West and North African countries are expected to attend this meeting, along with representatives from the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) of both sub-regions.
The Intergovernmental Committees of Senior Officials and Experts for North and West Africa are statutory deliberative bodies of the ECA. Their primary role is to assess the work carried out by the ECA in both sub-regions over the past year and define strategic directions for their work in the upcoming year.
The ICSOE 2023 will be preceded by an ad hoc expert group meeting, also scheduled in Accra on November 1st, 2023 under the theme: “Transition to Renewable Resources for Energy and Food Security in North and West Africa.”
The joint meetings provide opportunity for cross regional fertilisation, sharing of expertise, experiences, and innovative solutions to food and energy security challenges. A deep dive into ongoing initiatives in both regions will also be undertaken. Of critical importance is that the meetings are a stepping stone to galvanise countries’ efforts to accelerate the SDGs, half way to the deadline of achieving the global goals by 2030.
“Achieving food security and energy transition is instrumental to realising the SDGs in North and West Africa. This requires the 3 A: Ambition to scale up high impact- investments; Alliances with a wide range of regional, national and global actors i.e., governments, the youth and women, private sector, multilateral and bilateral organisations. Above all, it calls for Action, Act Now to deliver the SDGs promise for equitable, inclusive sustainable development for All, leaving No One behind,” said Ngone Diop, Director of the ECA office for West Africa ahead of the meeting.
The 2023 statutory meetings are taking place against the backdrop of a global economy still grappling with the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, the effects of the Russo-Ukrainian conflict on food and energy prices, increasing borrowing costs, and debt service, and the disproportionate impact of climate change which costs Africa 2 to 9% of its State budgets.
“Amid the cascading crises, the food and energy security in North and West Africa experienced major setbacks. Between 2019 and 2022, almost 25 million additional people suffered from undernourishment in both regions combined. The goal of the meeting is to propose recommendations that will facilitate just and sustainable food and energy transitions. This will require accelerated transition to renewables and reforms that promote investment and job rich growth in key sectors, especially energy and agriculture,” said Zuzana Brixiova Schwidrowski, Director of the ECA office for North Africa.
The United Nations anticipates global economic GDP to increase by 2.3% in 2023 and 2.5% in 2024, meaning they will remain below the average growth rate of the two decades prior leading up to the pandemic (3.1%). In Africa, growth rates are expected to experience a slight decrease, from 3.5% in 2022 to 3.4% in 2023, before returning to 3.5% in 2024. However, they are likely to remain well below the 7% growth rate needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.
In West Africa, for example, economic growth is estimated to have slowed to 3.9% in 2022, down from 4.4% in 2021. It is expected to further decrease to 3.8% in 2023 before rebounding to 4.2% in 2024.
Similarly, North Africa is experiencing relatively weak economic growth given its economic potential. While growth rates in North Africa declined from 5.4% in 2021 to 3.1% in 2022, projections suggest that growth rates will remain moderate in 2023 and 2024, ranging between 3.3% and 3.4%.