Africa: UNCTAD Launches 2015 Economic Development in Africa Report

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In Gambia, like in other African countries, the 2015 UNCTAD Economic Development in Africa report has been launched. In the southern Africa country, Ade Mamonyane Lekoetje, the UN resident coordinator and the UN representatives in The Gambia launched the report at the Ocean Bay Hotel.

The theme of the launching was; ‘unlocking the potential of Africa’s service trade for growth and development.

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) produces annual Economic Development in Africa Report on relevant themes of development concern. The 2015 UNCTAD economic development in Africa report was launched across the continent of Africa in partnership with the, UNECA-sub-regional offices, UN-Habitat, government and NGOs.

The report examines some of the major policy issues that underline Africa’s services sector and provides policy guidance on how services could contribute to Africa’s regional integration and generates inclusive growth and employment. The report makes specific and actionable policy recommendations on how to better leverage Africa’s services trade and related development, employment and growth benefits.

On behalf of the UN Country Team in The Gambia, Madam Lekoetje welcomed the gathering to the launching of the Economic Development in African Report produced by the UNCTAD.  She informed that the UN produces several flagship reports that cover a wide range of important thematic areas in development and comparable statistics.

She said the report comes at a time when Africa is at a crossroad of defining and shaping its transformational agenda and the conclusion of the Post 2015 Development Agenda.

According to her, the services sector has a vital role to play in the context of Africa’s development strategy – whether it is based of natural resources exploitation, agriculture or labour-intensive light industry and manufacturing, and must be part of Africa’s development roadmap.

The UN resident coordinator remarked that the report indicates that the service sector contributes almost half of the continent’s output and around 32.4% of the total employment in Africa. That the number of African countries emerging as service-oriented economies has been increasing over time.

During 2009-2012, she revealed, 21 countries in Africa had economies where the service sector contributes more than 50% to GDP. The Gambia, she added, is among these 21 countries. The service sector contributed 63.4% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2014 and more than 55% employment in 2012. While the wholesale and retail trade sectors jointly contributed about 32% of the country’s employment. The service sector therefore holds tremendous economic promise if harnessed adequately.

The report, she went on, shows that the service sector contributes significantly to Africa’s trade. In 2012, African services exports and imports totaled US$ 271 billion. ‘Although Africa remains a marginal player in the global services trade- with only 2.2% share of exports, the sector represents an important source of export revenue,” she told the gathering.’

While service provision in Africa remains suboptimal and is delivered at a high cost, some service sectors are considered as critical economic activity and have a bearing on social development. Infrastructure services, which include energy, water, telecoms, distribution, logistics and transport, are in critical for economic development and could contribute to addressing Africa’s infrastructure deficit, inclusive growth and better social welfare.

According to her, these services are important as they facility trade in manufacturing and agriculture. Therefore, she noted, upgrading the infrastructural services is therefore critical to increased economic growth and development.

Author: Sheriff Barry

Source: Daily Observer, Gambia

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