Without growth, economies will remain static and get worse. Without development, everything financial monument will become archaic but with growth and development, many economies and institutions will thrive and the youths will be strengthened. Vera Songwe is a woman whose major focus is to foster growth and development in any place that she finds herself and this has been her work legacy for a long time.
Vera Songwe graduated with a PhD in Mathematical Economics from the Center for Operations Research and Econometrics, Masters of Arts in Law and Economics and from Belgium she pulled the Diplôme d’études approfondies in Economic Science and Politics from the Université Catholique de Louvain. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and Political science from the University of Michigan.
She has enjoyed various aspects of the world of work as she has worked in places like the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, the World Bank in 1998, the International Finance Corporation and the Economic Commission for Africa, where she was the Executive Secretary. Her work revolves around raising money for concessional financing for low-income countries, Country Directing (in Senegal), fiscal policy, and innovative financing mechanisms for development, agriculture, energy and economic governance. She has joined initiatives that bring together young Africans to aid the economic development of Africa.
In 2013, Forbes listed her amongst the “20 Young Power Women in Africa” and Institut Choiseul for International Politics and Geoeconomics recognized her as one of the “African leaders of tomorrow”. She once collaborated with the Tony Elumelu Foundation in 2015.
Vera Songwe is popularly known to be an economist and banking executive. She is from Cameroon. She is also the first woman to have headed the Economic Commission for Africa at the Under-Secretary-General level. She is also the ninth executive secretary. Songwe is a non-resident Senior Fellow at the African Growth Initiative of the Brookings Institution and a member of the African Union institutional reform team directed by Paul Kagame, the President of Rwanda, she is also an advisory member of the African Leadership Network and the Mo Ibrahim Foundation.
Her Growth Perspective and Journey
Vera Songwe abides by her growth reform that works toward ideas for a prosperous Africa and she focuses on issues such as macroeconomic stability, development finance, growth and private sector and other aspects. She is also working towards developing a new way of deliberating on trade and a new framework for attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Songwe developed the ECA as an Executive Secretary to work on climate change, energy, business environment and improvement on the financing of SDGs.
Under her directives, the ratification of the African Continental Free Trade Area took place, the Digital Centre for Excellence was launched, and the African Women’s Leadership Fund was established. With her track record for the provision of policy advice on development, she believes her experience can help in bringing development results to Africa. She has effected her influence by highlighting how new technologies can benefit poor countries. Her written works span topics of debt, infrastructure development, and fiscal and governance issues, her work has even been featured in Financial Times.
According to her, for any African country to experience growth in the sense of industrialization, they need to define its development model. She predicts that for Africa to recover from the effect of the Covid-19 Pandemic; they need a growth rate of 8% to 10% and with recovery, jobs will be created for people.
From her perspective, things will get better if young people can become “Captains of Industries” by using information technology. Also, she believed Africa needs good roads and energy and if Africa takes advantage of The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the economies will open more and regional value chains will be strengthened.
Vera Songwe works with growth as the push for her time investment and she believes that with growth in Africa, the human capacity of young people will be strengthened.
Written By: Joyce C. Nwezeh Obi-Akejelu (Writer, Social media manager and graphic designer with Africa4AfricaWomen/Assert/PAWES).