In the framework of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Ministerial meeting in Paris chaired by Italy, Deputy Minister Sereni opened the 21st AU-OECD International Economic Forum on Africa today. The Forum is a long-established platform for economic dialogue between the OECD Development Centre (whose members include 11 African countries) and the African Union (AU). Today’s meeting was attended, in addition to the Deputy Minister and the Deputy Secretary General of the OECD, Jeffrey Schlagenhauf, the President of Senegal, Macki Sall, in his capacity as Chairperson of the AU, and the Deputy Chairperson of the AU Commission, Monique Nsanzabaganwa.
In her speech, Ms Sereni stressed the three top priorities for the African continent: food security, private sector development and bolstering opportunities for the younger generation. “We are very worried – she said – about the negative impact the war in Ukraine is having on food security in Africa, a continent that imports large quantities of food from Russia and Ukraine. Our goal is to couple emergency measures with framework measures aimed at strengthening African agriculture – which is still a relevant component of the continent’s economy – making it more efficient and environmentally sustainable and integrating rural development with access to energy and enhanced health services.”
“But Africa – Ms Sereni continued – is a continent rich in human capital, which is why we aim to step up the role of young people and women by boosting entrepreneurial skills and creating decent employment: quality education, vocational training and technology transfer are pivotal elements for achieving these goals”. The Deputy Minister also emphasised the key role SMEs play in Africa, just as they do in Italy, for the growth and spread of prosperity. “Italy – she said – precisely because of the structure of its productive system and the inclusive economic policies it has developed over the decades in favour of small and medium-sized enterprises, can legitimately aspire to be a model for Africa”.