The ECA office for North Africa will organise the 35thmeeting of the Intergovernmental Committee of Senior Officials and Experts (ICSOE) for North Africa on Tuesday 17 November, under the theme: "Recovering from COVID-19: Policies and Strategies for North Africa".
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year's edition of the event will take placeonline.
"The Intergovernmental Committee of Senior Officials and Experts is a yearly meeting we hold with member countries representatives, academics and experts in order to take stock of the work we have carried out in support to the sub-region and to agree on our office's strategic orientations for the year ahead", said Khaled Hussein, Interim director at the ECA Office for North Africa ahead of the meeting.
The ICSOE meeting will also be an opportunity to examine the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on North African economies and agree on a set of recommendations for a faster economic recovery. To do so, discussions will build on five webinars held by the office over the last month, and in which participants have discussed issues such as the implementation of Agenda 2030 (SDGs) and Agenda 2063 in North Africa and the impact of the pandemic on the progress being made; North Africa's economic and structural challenges and the reforms needed to facilitate its economic recovery; the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and how it can help mitigate the impact of the ongoing crisis on member countries' trade strategies; best practices for job creation and finally how innovation and new technologies can help the sub-region navigate post COVID-19 economic trends.
"We expect 2021 to be another difficult year for North African economies, but also a major turning point for them on vital issues such as structural transformation, regional integration and youth employment, and ultimately their ability to achieve inclusive, sustainable and resilient growth in the coming years, said Khaled Hussein.
This year's edition of the ICSOE meeting for North Africa is taking place as the sub-region is suffering from one of the biggest economic chocs in its modern history, with experts fearing major and long-lasting socio-economic repercussions for its member countries and a slow recovery starting from 2021.
UN forecasts expect the global economy to shrink by -3.2% in 2020, with a mere 0.3% GDP growth in North Africa in the best-case scenario, and a - 5.4% drop in the worst-case scenario.
Since the start of its global spread, the COVID-19 pandemic has severely hit the global economy, disrupting global value chains - which account for nearly half of global trade in a highly interconnected global economy, triggering the emergence of more concentrated value chains and new strategic sectors, and accelerating the 4th industrial revolution.
Prior to the pandemic, North Africa had achieved some growth, which had remained marred by insufficient structural transformation, low productivity growth, participation in lower Value-Added links of global value chains and high unemployment rates, especially among youths.
The COVID-19 crisis has also impacted major sources of foreign currency such as FDI, oil and goods exports, remittances and tourism threatening an estimated 5 million jobs this 2020, affecting mostly vulnerable workers such as youths, women and employees in the informal sector.