ICSOE is a United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) policy sub-organ of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development.
The Committee was established to provide a forum for engaging senior officials and experts of member states on policy and programme-related matters in each of the five sub regions of Africa, namely; Central, Eastern, North, Southern and West. The 27th ICSOE meeting will be held in a hybrid format – virtual and physical – in capitals of member states of SRO-SA and in Blantyre, Malawi.
According to the Public Relations Manager of the Ministry of Finance, Keneuoe Mojaki, the main objectives of the meeting is to deliberate on statutory matters, including reviewing economic and social conditions in southern Africa focusing on the socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the post-pandemic responses.
The meeting, she said, will also look into providing a high-level platform to reflect on the recommendations of the Ad-hoc Expert Group Meeting (AEGM) on Agriculture value chains, linkages and transformation in southern Africa which will see opportunities from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) for endorsement and to provide guidance on implementation.
Mojaki said the expected outcome from the meeting includes enhancing understanding and appreciation of the economic and social conditions in southern Africa in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and the prospects for 2022.
She added that the meeting is also expected to lead into the improved understanding of progress, challenges and opportunities in the implementation of the AfCFTA in southern Africa.
Also expected to participate in the meeting are high-level officials and experts from all 11 member states of Sub regional Office for Southern Africa (SRO-SA), women and youth groups, professional associations, academic and research institutions, UN agencies and development partners.
The 26th ICSOE meeting which was held in Lusaka, Zambia on October 29, 2020 elected Lesotho as the Chair, Malawi as Vice Chair and South Africa as Rapporteur to lead the Bureau.
Delegates and participants from Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe representing ministries of agriculture, commerce, economic development, finance, foreign affairs as well as trade and industry participated in the meeting.
Lesotho’s Minister of Finance, Thabo Sofonea, officially opened the assembly, noting in his remarks that the new Bureau was assuming responsibilities in a Covid-19 environment, which had impacted negatively on socio-economic affairs in southern Africa.
He had said although the current response to the pandemic was through emergency health and economic mitigation measures, fiscal consolidation and structural reforms were required to restore external balance, preserve debt sustainability and stimulate inclusive growth over the medium-term.