The G77+ China Summit comprising of a group of developing and emerging countries representing 80% of the world’s population, was conducted in Havana, Cuba from 15th to 16th September 2023 with a call to “change the rules of the game” of the global order. A total of 30 heads of State and Government from Africa, Latin America, and Asia presided over the conference. Formed in 1964, the group has increased its size over the years and currently has 134 developing nations as members.
Speaking on the opening session of the conference, Cuban President Miguel Daiz-Canel remarked “After all this time that the North has organized the world according to its interests, it is now up to the South to change the rules of the game,”
In his remark on the conference, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called for a world that was “more representative and responsive to the needs of developing economies,” stressing that these countries were “trapped in a tangle of global crises.”
On his keynote address to the conference, Demeke Mekonnen, Deputy PM and Minister of Foreign Affairs said unilateral sanctions and coercive economic actions hamper progress in science, technology and economic development.
He added that, facilitating knowledge and technology transfer through South-South cooperation fosters innovation and the implementation of SDGs.
In this respect, Ethiopia’s digital strategy envisages inclusive digital economy with wider benefits to the wider public, Demeke added.
The deputy premier also said that Ethiopia has registered encouraging results in the implementation of the digital strategy.
The alarming socio-economic state among the less developed countries is similar. The author has selected the less developed countries of Africa to demonstrate the state of affairs in the rest of the less developed countries. According to a deliberation of a conference organized by the UNECA from March 21, 2023.
“Today, 546 million people are still living in poverty, which is an increase of 74 % since 1990”, “Global shocks have ripple effects on the poor in Africa through inflation, which, in 2022, stood at 12.3 %, which was much higher than the world average of 6.7 %”.
In demonstrating the state of poverty in Africa, UNECA estimates that households in Africa spend up to 40 % of their income on food, and the impact of global crises has hit the poorest households in Africa severely. A staggering 310 million Africans experienced some form of food insecurity and 6 million Africans faced extreme hunger in 2022.
According to recent research, the 10 African countries with the highest levels of poverty in Africa are Burundi, Somalia, Madagascar, South Sudan, the Central African Republic, Malawi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique and Zambia, in each of which between 60 % and 82 % of the population is poor.
The burden of import dependency, the devastating effects of climate change and rising debt stress is quite obvious. The commissioner for Trade and Industry of the African Union Commission, Albert M. Muchanga told the conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development that although Africa is the richest in the world in terms of natural endowments, we are the poorest.
African reliance on imports makes the continent vulnerable to commodity price shocks. In 2021, 39 African countries were net importers of food products. In addition, in 2021, Africa exported only $5.7 billion of refined petroleum products but imported over $44 billion of them.
“Coming out of the low levels of income and wealth is now being made more challenging by climate change as seen in the recent flooding in Madagascar Malawi and Mozambique” stressed Muchanga. “We must add to this, the looming debt crisis which could undermine all the growth achievements of the past 23 years”.
Experts and Ministers at the conference noted that African countries continue to face declining revenue, rising debt stress and increasingly constrained fiscal space.
In 2022, the government debt-to-GDP ratio in Africa was 64.5 %, which is significantly higher than the pre-pandemic figure for 2019 that was 57.1 %.
Most members of the G77+ China comprise as the UN noted that as of 2021, 46 countries which make up 14% of the global population are less developed countries and out of this 33 are from Africa. While comprising 15% of the global population, Africa contributes only 3% to the global GDP.
The socio-political dimension in Africa is even more alarming. Recurrent coups, ethnic based conflicts, all out wars, lack of strong political and juridical institutions, deteriorating health situation, inadequate spending on education and health, and a myriad of other problems still persist in Africa.
BY SOLOMON DIBABA
Editor’s Note: The views entertained in this article do not necessarily reflect the stance of The Ethiopian Herald
THE ETHIOPIAN HERALD WEDNESDAY 20 SEPTEMBER 2023