African researchers have to speak out more: the executive secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Abdoulie Janneh, wants African intellectuals, at home and in the Diaspora, to play a major role in the continent's development. He spoke to Joachim Arrey and Magatte Wade. Here are excerpts.

Author:Arrey, Joachim
Position:Feature - Interview

What are, in your view, the constraints on African development?

Over the last few years, Africa has been growing at a near fast rate of 6% and this implies that Africans are better managing their economies. They will, however, need to be assisted in this process by their development partners. These growth figures which have been captured by the UNECA have been supported by credible sources such as the recently published World Bank African Economic Indicators.

However, I would like to stress that Africa needs higher growth which should be sustained in order to reduce poverty substantially. To achieve this, the continent needs to integrate and increase its competitiveness through trade. Integration will also help Africa to deal with major trans-boundary challenges, including the provision of infrastructure such as electricity.

Therefore, trade needs to be at the centre of national development strategies, while efforts continue to be made to bring about a fairer international trading system. While these efforts are going on, we must also strive to overcome supply-side constraints so that they do not impede Africa from benefiting from fairer international trade rules.

What do you think about the AfDB-UNECA cooperation?

The cooperation between our organisations is working very well. AfDB is a credible development finance institution, which is committed to working together with the UNECA. The AfBD president, Donald Kaberuka, is committed to ensuring that this cooperation works. I am similarly fully committed and our institutions are leading the way in the provision of a platform to create and disseminate knowledge.

We have been working on various initiatives such as the joint publication of the African Economic Outlook. The two institutions are also working on the Aid-for Trade programme with the WTO, as well as in several other areas. We have a common platform to ensure that there is no duplication in what we do, and we also work very closely...

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