By Ifeoma Asika, Correspondent Campuses
African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) will host its 53rd Plenary Session on the theme on the “Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic and Public Finance in Africa – Challenges and Opportunities” on December 7, 2020. The sessions will be held virtually where researchers, academics, policy makers, and non-state actors will discuss the impact of COVID-19 on Public Finance in Africa in terms of the challenges ahead and opportunities afforded. The official opening of this session will be by Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Botswana Hon. Dr. Thapelo C. Matsheka and the Policy Panel led and chaired by Minister of Finance of Nigeria Honorable Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed where leaders of Central Banks and Revenue Authorities will be represented.
“While the African continent has registered relatively lower deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic, most countries have put in place a wide range of restrictions on businesses operations and mobility of people to contain the spread of the virus and has impacted negatively on economic activities. The growth outlook for 2020 for Africa hovered around 3.2 per cent before the pandemic struck, which is one of the lowest since 2013. Thus, growth and the capacity for growth in African economies was already fragile. What is less emphasized in these perilous times is Africa’s weak capacity of health care systems and the health care infrastructure beyond the governance issues that have emerged. These are all likely to exacerbate the pandemic and will have very negative impact on the African economies, thus reversing the gains of poverty reduction and human capital developments that have been achieved in the last 20 years”, said AERC’s Executive Director, Professor Njuguna Ndung’u.
During the session, Chief Economist and Vice President for African Development Bank, Dr. Rabah Arezki will deliver the keynote speech on COVID-19 Impact on Public Finance in Africa: Challenges and Opportunities for African economies. The plenary will feature presentations by lead academics and experts in the field. These include:
- The Political Economy of State Capacity to Mobilize Taxes in Africa by Prof. James Robinson, University of Chicago
- Taxation and State Building in Africa: Agenda for Action by Dr. Catherine Pattillo, Assistant Director, IMF
- Information Technology and Tax Mobilization in Times of COVID-19 by Dr. Oyebola Okunogbe, World Bank
- Fiscal Sustainability in Africa: Accelerating the Post-COVID-19 Recovery through Improved Public Finances by Dr Edward Sennoga, African Development Bank
The policy Panel:
* State Minister of Finance, Ethiopia, H.E. Dr. Eyob Tekalign.
*Governor of Central Bank, Ghana, H.E. Dr. Ernest Addison.
*Kenya Revenue Authority Commissioner General, H.E. Gathii Mburu.
*Deputy Director of the Senegal Tax Office, H.E. Aziz Gueye.
In the lead up to the plenary session, AERC will host the Binannual Research Workshop Concurrent sessions from Monday, 23 November – Friday, 27 November 2020, which will include five parallel Thematic Groups that cover the focal areas of AERC’s thematic research programme; the pillar for capacity building through research:
- Group A: Poverty, Labour Markets, and Income Distribution
- Group B: Macroeconomic Policy and Growth
- Group C: Finance and Resource Mobilization
- Group D: Production, Trade and Economic Integration
- Group E: Agriculture, Climate Change and Natural Resource Management
Over 70 papers are expected to be presented during these concurrent sessions, each addressing different policy issues. This workshop is basically a capacity building event intended to sharpen participants’ research skills.