Commissioner Maruping Addresses joint AUC/ACBF Press Briefing on the Impact of Drought, Floods and Declining Commodity Prices in Africa

By African Union Commission (AUC)

H.E Dr. Anthony Mothae Maruping Commissioner for Economic Affairsof the African Union Commission (AUC) , together with Professor Emmanuel Nnadozie, Executive Secretary of the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) and Mr. Mohamed Beavogui, UN Assistant Secretary General and Director of the African Risk Capacity , addressed the press on 3rd April 2016 at the closing of the Ministerial roundtable discussion on the “Impact of Drought, Floods and Declining Commodity Prices in Africa” that took place at the UNCEA Conference Center in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Holding at the margin of the 9TH Annual Joint Meetings of the AU Specialized Technical Committee on Finance, Monetary Affairs, Economic Planning and integrated and ECA Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic development, Commissioner Maruping told the journalists that, in recent months, drastic decline in demand for, and a sharp drop in the prices of a wide range of commodities produced and exported by most African countries has had adverse financial and economic effects which is worrisome in that African economies are still heavily dependent on commodity exports. Contextually, economic growth in Africa has been declining over the years from 5.7 percent in 2002 to 4.6 percent in 2015 and recent forecasts puts it further down to about 3.8 percent. Such decrease is explained by a combination of both internal and external factors the Commissioner highlighted.

The AUC Commissioner for Economic Affairs explained that floods have negative impacts on the continent of Africa and have caused a sharp drop in the prices of a wide range of commodities produced and exported. Furthermore, it has also led to a rise of interest rates in USA which has devastating financial and economic effects on the continent. The aggravated situation of prolonged droughts and floods has greatly and adversely affected agricultural production especially given that rain-fed agriculture remains the backbone of many African economies contributing over 90% to total agricultural output. Specifically, one third of income in Africa is generated by agriculture and 70% of Africans are farmers. He said it is against this background that the African Union Commission (AUC) and the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) are organizing a Ministerial Roundtable to offer a platform for ministers and experts to share their experiences and ideas on the best way to tackle the declining commodity prices, severe drought, and floods facing African countries. The idea is to tap into the collective and individual experiences in order to develop viable interventions and pragmatic responses to the crises.

Also speaking during the press briefing the Executive Secretary of ACBF, Professor Emmanuel Nnadozie underscored the importance of the round table saying that the fifty year achievement of Africa in terms of economic growth, employment especially in the sector of youths, reduction of poverty which has been termed as “Africa rising” is currently at risk is something is done urgently to mitigate the problems of droughts, floods and decline in commodity prices Africa is facing. He noted that a continent faced with such risks should either take preventive measures, mitigate the risks if they have already occurred or cope with it. In combatting the problem of decline in commodity prices, Professor Nnadozie said countries should put in place macro-economic policies if they have physical space as well as insurance mechanism to help Africa in times of shock like the sudden occurrence of these disasters. He emphasized on the need for Africa to diversity and industrialize their basic primary commodity.

Mr. Mohamed Beavogui, UN assistant Secretary General and Director of the African Risk Capacity, congratulated Africa's effort to finding solutions to these problems and not seeking for help from external bodies. He further explained that managing disasters is something Africa must build which is one of the avoidable solutions achieved through the solidarity of African Member States giving that Africa will combine its resources together and lower down the premium to be paid for insurance.

The press briefing brought together continental and international journalists all very interested on the issues discussed during the AUC/ACBF Ministerial Round table debate, that was chaired by H.E Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the AU Commission.