The island nation of Mauritius is set to host the 2022 African Economic Conference (AEC) from 9-11 December, its Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, Dr. Renganaden Padayachy, said Thursday at a news conference announcing the event.

The African Economic Conference is Africa’s leading forum for discussing the continent’s emerging challenges and opportunities and is jointly hosted by the African Development Bank, the Economic Commission for Africa, and the United Nations Development Program.

This year’s conference will be held in a hybrid format, with in-person delegates gathering in the coastal city of Balaclava, northwest of Mauritius. It will be held under the theme “Supporting Climate-Smart Development in Africa.”

“Hosting such a high-profile event is truly a privilege and an honor for Mauritius,” Padayachy said.

Addressing the theme of AEC 2022, Padayachy referenced the World Risk Report 2021, which described Africa as the most vulnerable continent to climate disasters and Mauritius as highly exposed to the impacts.

The minister said the government is highly committed to accelerating the country’s green transformation process, targeting to generate 60% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030. “Sustainable growth and inclusive development do involve a cleaner, greener, and more climate resilient economy,” he said.

In his remarks, African Development Bank Deputy Director General for Southern Africa, Kennedy Mbekeani commended the government of Mauritius for agreeing to host the 2022 African Economic Conference. AEC 2022 offers a platform for in-depth reflection on strengthening institutional capacities to develop climate-smart innovative mechanisms to bolster Africa’s resilience and the drive to switch to low-carbon development pathways.

“Water supplies and food production might be hampered by changing weather patterns. Africa’s most vulnerable regions are also among its most fragile due to their dependence on unimproved commodities and lack of economic variety,” Mbekeani said.

According to Mbekeani, creating climate-smart policies could become a driver of development across Africa, and investments in building resilience to climate change could have wider economic and social benefits.

At the press conference were UNDP’s Senior Economist for Mauritius and Seychelles, Tony Muhumuza; the Advisor to African Development Bank’s Chief Economist and Vice President, Eric Ogunleye; the Bank’s AEC Task Manager, Adeleke Salami; and other senior government officials, including Deputy Financial Secretary at the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, Vish Soondram.

Mbekeani highlighted the African Development Bank Group’s new Climate Change and Green Growth Policy and Strategy for 2021-2030, which aims to address climate financing disparities across Africa and strengthen the continent’s voice on climate change issues.

Experts have warned that most of Africa will suffer from extreme weather events, which have become more frequent and severe, causing damage to agriculture, tourism, cities, infrastructure, water, energy systems, and even the extractive sector.

Since its inception in 2006, the AEC has supported research, policy discussion, and knowledge sharing on issues affecting Africa.  This year, Mauritius is expecting over 400 in-person attendees.

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