GReCEST 2017 Annual Conference
Over 80 researchers, practitioners and policy makers from research institutes, think tanks, government, international organizations and development agencies have convened in Addis Ababa for the second Global Research Consortium on Economic Structural Transformation (GReCEST). The two day conference, which opened on December 13, focuses on how best to promote industrialization and economic structural transformation.
Global experts discussed and debated key topics related to economic structural transformation. Topics included: rural and agricultural transformation, special economic zones, global value chains, industrial policy, green transformation, innovation, development cooperation partnerships, financing for development, labor market issues and youth employment.
Professor Justin Yifu Lin (Chair of the GReCEST and Director of the Center for New Structural Economics) opened the conference and highlighted the importance of structural transformation as a means to alleviate poverty. As for choosing Addis Ababa as a location to hold the second conference, Professor Lin credited Ethiopia for making good progress towards its own economic transformation and that lessons could be drawn for other African countries.
Dr. Célestin Monga (Vice-President and Chief Economist, African Development Bank) spoke about the necessity for Africa to industrialise; and noted that the biggest challenge facing many African countries is the risk of remaining trapped in subsistence agriculture. Dr Monga cautioned against the automatic replication of inappropriate development models, and stressed the importance of targeted economic transformation strategies, building quality infrastructure and removing constraints hindering the development of the manufacturing sector.
H.E. Dr Arkebe Oqubay (Special Advisor to the Prime Minister, Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia) provided the Ethiopian context, and outlined the strategies Ethiopia is pursuing to achieve its objective of becoming Africa’s “leading manufacturing hub” and a middle income country by 2025. In particular, H.E.Dr Arkebe emphasized Ethiopia’s desire to learn from the experiences of other countries, but ultimately define its own unqiue development path.
The second GReCEST conference has provided a key platform for the exchange of ideas and reinforced the importance of economic structural transformation. Jorge Chediek (UNOSSC Director and Envoy of the Secretary-General on South- South Cooperation) thanked GReCEST participants for their “great contributions” to advancing the thinking behind economic structural transformation and offering answers to some of the most profound challenges facing developing countries.