Lopes re-aligns ECA work to better serve Africa's transformation agenda
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, December 13, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The new Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Mr. Carlos Lopes today in Addis Ababa announced a major restructuring of ECA's work programme to better reflect a “changing world, a new phase of globalization” and the present realities of rapid urbanization in Africa which is recording steady economic growth but few jobs and which needs to accelerate its transformation agenda.
He told hundreds of ECA staff members in a Town Hall meeting that he had consulted a broad spectrum of stakeholders, including ECA's strategic partners and staff members over the past three months, and developed a better and more targeted structure with new business processes designed to serve Africa better.
Today, he announced the creation of Macroeconomic Policy Division, Regional Integration and Trade Division, Special Initiatives Division, Social Development Division and a strengthened and expanded African Centre for Statistics which will be charged with collating and collecting credible data and statistics on African development issues. These Divisions, he said, will take charge of ECA's renewed focus on “Policy Research”.
To carry out “knowledge delivery”, he announced the creation of an Office of Partnerships and a Capacity Development Division which is composed of an African Union and NEPAD Team as well as a team of highly skilled experts who will serve as Regional Advisers. With this Division, Lopes expects that ECA will better respond to the capacity needs of the African Union and its NEPAD programme as well as benefit from the experience of renowned experts in various capacities around the world.
Since the most significant change has to do with data collection and statistical analysis, Lopes said ECA's five Sub-regional Offices (SROs) (in Lusaka, Kigali, Rabat, Niamey and Yaoundé) would be strengthened and re-focused to reflect this objective.
Accordingly, the SROs will have the primary task of serving as Data Centres, collecting credible statistics on various development issues and challenges in the countries that they cover. They will also cater to subregional “special initiatives”.
While the new structure is expected to take effect from March 2013, Lopes called on staff to join any of 10 task forces he established in order to ensure that all opinions and recommendations are factored into the operations of the new structure. The task forces will examine wide ranging areas including re-profiling, communications strategy and conferencing. He will adopt some recommendation and “publicly explain why he did not adopt others”
While some Divisions (Food Security and Sustainable Development; ICT, Science and Technology; and Governance and Public Administration Divisions) appeared to have disappeared, Lopes said their programmes had actually been absorbed in other new structures. For instance, Food Security, Agriculture and Land, are now part of the Regional Integration and Trade Division, while the African Gender Center is now part of a wider Social Development Division.
He said no priority of Africa had been overlooked in the present structure, stressing the overall objective of ECA being known for fewer things, but considered to be the best in those things.
“For example, we do not need to get involved in gender advocacy; instead we should develop the tools for others to carry out such advocacy, and when we work on food security, it should have a focus on regional integration” he said.
While the new structure is expected to take effect from March 2013, Lopes called on ECA staff to join any of 10 task forces he established to review and make recommendations that will factor into the operations of the new structure.
The task forces will examine wide ranging areas including re-profiling, communications strategy and conferencing. He said he will adopt some recommendations and publicly explain why he does not adopt others, he promised.
The overall reaction of ECA staff appears to be one of optimism as they get ready to embrace the change.