By Dipo Olowookere
Researchers, policy-makers and development partners converge in Abuja, Nigeria, for the 11th African Economic Conference (AEC) from December 5-7, 2016, to share ideas on topical African development issues including how to end hunger and ensure food security in Africa.
About 300 participants are expected to attend the annual event co-organised by the African Development Bank (AfDB), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) on the theme, “Feed Africa: Towards Agro-Allied Industrialization for Inclusive Growth.”
The theme, according to organisers, is in line with the current African and global development agenda.
Tackling poverty, hunger and food insecurity are central concerns of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) endorsed in September 2015 by UN member States. The theme also builds on the African Union Agenda 2063 which underscore the right of Africans to be well-nourished and lead healthy and productive lives.
Furthermore, the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP), as well as the June 2014 Malabo Declaration emphasise the centrality of a structural transformation of African agriculture to growth and poverty eradication on the continent. In consonance with these goals, agriculture and industrialization are at the heart of the core activities of AfDB, ECA and UNDP and their vision and long-term strategy for a prosperous and inclusive Africa.
This theme is timely and in line with the current African and international development agenda. Ending poverty and overcoming hunger and food insecurity permanently are the first and second, respectively, of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the organisers said.
Participants at the African Economic Conference will be challenged to investigate the situation in which, despite overall macroeconomic growth and improved broad governance across the continent, Africa still has the highest rates of poverty and hunger in the world. No fewer than 230 million of the 795 million people suffering from chronic undernourishment globally live in Africa, resulting in the highest prevalence of undernourishment worldwide.
The African Economic Conference provides a unique platform to assess these challenges and the impact of current growth strategies in Africa; focusing on the agricultural and industrial sector.
Participants will discuss successes, lessons learned and identify remaining gaps, challenges and emerging issues on the topic. The conference will encompass in-depth presentations of policy-oriented research by both established academics and emerging researchers from the continent and beyond, who will debate and recommend policy options on how to accelerate Africa’s agricultural and industrial transformation.
After three days of intensive deliberations and brainstorming, the Conference is expected to come up with mechanisms for a sustainable inclusive green and scale agro-industry appropriate for a continent which is home to 600 million hectares of uncultivated arable land, roughly 60 percent of the global total.
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