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Plaudits for Milestones in ECA-Cameroon Relations during Antonio Pedro's term as Head of Central Africa Office

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The Government of Cameroon has expressed gratitude to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) for its extensive support to the country’s structural transformation and economic diversification processes in the past five years, thanks to the coordination of outgone Director of ECA’s Office for Central Africa – Antoni Pedro, under the leadership of UN Under Secretary General and Executive Secretary of ECA – Vera Songwe.

Several members of Government paid tribute to Mr Pedro who was recently appointed to the post of Deputy Executive Secretary of ECA in Charge of Programme Support. They included: Prime Minister – Joseph Dion Ngute, Minister of Economy, Planning and Regional Development – Alamine Ousmane Mey, Minister of Industry – Gabriel Dodo Ndoke, Minister of Trade – Luc Magloire Atangana Mballa, Minister of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises, Social Economy and Handicraft – Achille Bassilikin III, Minister Delegate to the Minister of External Relations in Charge of Relations with the Commonwealth – Felix Mbayu, and Minister Delegate to the Minister of Environment, Protection of Nature and Sustainable Development – Nana Aboubakar Djalloh.

Mr Pedro has already taken up his new post at ECA’s headquarters in Addis Ababa.

During goodbye encounters with the Government Officials, Mr Pedro received plaudits for the strategic policy advisory services and technical support ECA’s Office for Central Africa, located in Cameroon’s capital city – Yaounde, gave to the country, since his arrival as Head of the office in August 2016, reinforced by the vision of Executive Secretary Vera Songwe, who was appointed by the UN Secretary General to lead the Commission a year later. In her reforms, the Executive Secretary called for each sub-regional office to become a centre of excellence in a domain critical to the development priorities of the respective sub-region. In Central Africa, the choice was simple: economic diversification, cemented by the adoption in September 2017 of the Douala Consensus on economic diversification through resource-driven and trade-induced industrialisation!

Major achievements in ECA-Cameroon cooperation during the last five years include: promoting the discourse and practice of economic diversification through the Douala Consensus; leading in the formulation of AfCFTA strategy for Cameroon and identifying the Kribi-Douala-Edea (KED) Growth Triangle as the launch pad for the operationalisation of the country’s industrial development master plan (PDI)..

“We will never forget the key role you played in overhauling our Industrial Development Masterplan (PDI), in the return of UNIDO to Cameroon and in the design of our forthcoming wood-sector Special Economic Zone in our forest rich East Region”  said Industry Minister Gabriel Dodo Ndoke to Mr Pedro.

Minister Dodo Ndoke requested the outgone Director to continue to maintain the links with Cameroon and serve as the country’s Ambassador in mobilizing policy advice and technical support to the country, while at ECA’s headquarters.

The past five years also saw ECA working with Cameroon to build the foundations for the emergence of a productive pharmaceutical industry in the country; to recalibrate the country’s digital economy strategies and to train senior civil servants in the alignment of national development plans with Agendas 2030 and 2063.

Through its Yaounde Office, during the same period, ECA also provided analysis on the socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19 on Central Africa (including Cameroon) and reparative measures to be taken with the view to avoiding a double jeopardy on the health and economic sectors, as well as analysis on better road safety measures as factors for unperturbed economic growth.

The Commission also supported designated institutions in developing an integrated approach to climate, land, water and energy strategies and the National Observatory on Climate Change (NOCC) in promoting resilience on climate change.

ECA also assisted Cameroonian officials to mainstream accountability measures in development planning and provided training to the country’s planners on how to deal with a huge urban sprawl to be caused by an estimated 70% of people to be concentrated on the country’s cities by 2050.

“I am very touched by the appreciation the Government of Cameroon has expressed with regards to the collaboration with ECA under the guidance of our Executive Secretary, whose credo has been and remains – IDEAS FOR A PROSPEROUS AFRICA, with many of these ideas having shaped the country’s trajectory on salient issues such as the African Continental Free Trade Area, the Digital Economy and job-creating growth based on economic diversification,” said Mr Pedro before he left for Addis Ababa.

“It has been a very fulfilling five years thanks to the indispensable support of an assiduous group of staff members at ECA’s Central Africa Office, to whom I am most grateful.”

“I also use this opportunity to express my most sincere gratitude to both the Government and the people of Cameroon, to the Governments and people of all our member States in Central Africa, to the leadership of the CEMAC and ECCAS commissions and COPIL, to the United Nations family in the subregion, and to all our development partners including the private sector.”

The newly appointed Deputy Executive Secretary in Charge of Programme Support at ECA said he would continue to follow up on the important work being done by ECA in Central Africa in general and in Cameroon in particular – which he considers to be the vortex of progress on economic diversification in Central Africa.

Meanwhile staff of ECA’s Subregional Office for Central Africa collectively and individually expressed gratitude to Mr Pedro for his leadership.

Current Officer in Charge – Jean Luc Mastaki – “Mr Pedro’s contributions to the work of ECA and to the development of Africa are a hallmark of exceptional technical and managerial capacities.”

“What great ideas! what great initiatives! What a drive for the mobilisation of strategic partnerships! What energy! what inspiration!  ECA is lucky and must seize the opportunity to benefit from your leadership at the level of Deputy Executive Secretary,” Mr Mastaki concluded.

“You inspired us greatly to mould ECA’s Office for Central Africa into a Centre of Excellence on Economic Diversification,” said Adama Coulibaly – who heads the Office’s Subregional Initiatives section.  

“We will keep up with the good work in order to meet the challenges of the future with all the learning and tools we gained from your leadership,” Mr Coulibaly added.

Some of the most important projects on Cameroon recently initiated by Mr Pedro to be operationalised by the Office in the immediate term include the brokering of funding form the Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) to set up of a Special Economic Zone on the wood value chain, and training of Cameroon national planners on the appropriation and use of ECA’s Geographic Information System (GIS) spatial planning and investment decision tool.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).