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Chief Economists of Government (CEoG) Annual Forum in Pretoria, South Africa

From May 26 – 23, 2023, fifteen chief economic advisors to African heads of the executive and five former advisors met in Pretoria, South Africa, for deliberations and peer-learning around the theme Building Resilient African Economies in an Uncertain World.

This years’ forum was co-hosted by Trudi Makhaya, outgoing economic advisor to President Ramaphosa of South Africa, and the World Bank Africa Chief Economist Andrew Dabalen. We were joined by Prof Stefan Dercon from Oxford University, Prof Haroon Bhorat from the University of Cape Town, Prof Danny Bradlow from the University of Pretoria, the Acting Director of the Africa CDC Ahmed Ogwell Ouma, the Executive Director of the Trade Law Center (Tralac) Trudi Hatzenberg and Masela Kekana, South Africa’s climate negotiator.

After the opening by South Africa’s Deputy Minister of Finance David Masondo, the sessions on the first day focused on debt sustainability and tackling the cost of living crisis, with inputs from a range of countries including Zambia and Senegal. Day two started with a session on the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area, followed by a discussion with the Africa CDC on public health investments and resilience, and a final session on mobilizing climate finance. The importance of advisors coming together to draft common African positions, whether it is on climate policies, debt restructuring, or revenue mobilization, was highlighted throughout the sessions.

Following last year’s forum on Financing African Economies from Within, which is also the title of an upcoming CEoG book, some advisors presented their draft book chapters to the network and received peer feedback. Last but not least, the forum involved a lengthy discussion on How to be a successful advisor? Chief economic advisors often have no peers in their own country and hence find connecting to economic advisors from other African countries extremely useful, given many shared challenges.

The forum ended with a visit to the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) where advisors learned from the success story of the JSE, the largest stock exchange in Africa and the 18th largest exchange globally. Below are links to two interviews that appeared on CNBC Africa following the JSE visit with the CEoG network members from South Africa and Senegal, and Andrew Dabalen.

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