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UNECA: Growing public debt burden, shrinking fiscal space leave Africa at crossroads

 Participants attend the 10th Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on April 23, 2024. [Xinhua]

The growing burden of public debt due to climate-related disasters and the shrinking fiscal space because of increasing financing needs have put Africa at a crossroads, Claver Gatete, executive secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), has said.

The executive secretary made the remarks on Tuesday at the opening of the 10th Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia.

The forum's theme is "Reinforcing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Agenda 2063 and eradicating poverty in times of multiple crises: the effective delivery of sustainable, resilient and innovative solutions."

Underscoring the urgency of addressing critical challenges related to climate change and financial challenges across the continent, Gatete said Africa's infrastructure and climate change needs are estimated to cost between 68 billion and 108 billion U.S. dollars annually.

"Despite Africa's remarkable resilience, evidenced by its status as the second-fastest growing region globally, we cannot overlook the stark realities of poverty, hunger and inequalities in Africa," the executive secretary said.

Recalling that African leaders have recently expressed concerns about the inadequacy of the global financial architecture to meet the continent's evolving needs, he called for a redesign of the global financial system to leave no one behind.

He said the United Nations has identified six transitions as key investment pathways for implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including improving food systems, energy access and affordability, digital connectivity, education, and social protection.

"We cannot do business as usual. Mindful of the interconnectedness of the SDGs, we need to be selective and focus on areas that will trigger a cascading domino effect and deliver maximum impact on the ground," Gatete added.

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