Pedro made the remarks at the ongoing three-day UNECA Expo, which runs until Thursday at the UNECA Conference Center in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, as he emphasized the urgent need for technological advancement and digitalization of the economy in Africa to withstand emerging socioeconomic shocks.
"It was clear during the COVID-19 pandemic that the crisis was a low-hanging fruit for regional integration and for harnessing the demographic dividend on the continent," a UNECA statement issued late Tuesday quoted Pedro as saying.
"We must embrace innovative and disruptive thinking to provide practical solutions to real life challenges affecting our member states now and in the future," Pedro said.
The UNECA Expo, the first of its kind, is showcasing the work of the UNECA with a view to forging new partnerships and strengthening existing ones to enable the Commission to effectively serve its member countries in a rapidly changing and complex environment.
Noting that the African continent and the rest of the world are facing new and complex challenges and opportunities as reflected in the impacts of climate change and geopolitical tensions with ramifications in food and energy crises, the UNECA chief said innovation is needed to manage the challenges.
Pedro said the recently held COP27 presented new investment opportunities on the continent to create carbon credit markets, deploy renewable energy and find solutions to the energy transition for the rest of the world.
He said the COVID-19 pandemic, despite its multifaceted impacts, demonstrated opportunities for Africa to participate in the development of the pharmaceutical value chain.
Pedro said the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement will ensure the seamless operation of new vehicles to make trade and investments within the continent and across the global market.
Pedro stressed that the role of the UNECA needs to evolve as challenges multiply. He said the UNECA can offer solutions to help African countries achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the African Union (AU)’s 50-year continental development blueprint, Agenda 2063.