Carlos Lopes resigns as ECA chief, said to eye African Union role

Thursday September 29 2016

Dr Carlos Lopes, the outgoing Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa. PHOTO | FILE

The executive secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Dr Carlos Lopes has stepped down, with sources saying he could be eyeing an influential position in the African Union (AU).

The Guinea-Bissau national has been at the helm of ECA for four years and has been hailed for standing firm against “bad contract negotiations and lazy fiscal reforms” in the continent.

“One of his main achievements while with the ECA was his role championing the need for improved data and statistics for informed decision-making on the continent,” a statement from the Commission reads.

Dr Lopes has also been praised for being “the first to call for debt cancellation for Ebola-affected countries on the continent and led a team that demonstrated the economic impact projections on Africa were highly exaggerated and part of a negative narrative.”

Sources say he is expected to join an AU team, led by Rwandan President Paul Kagame, tasked with transforming the continental bloc’s structure including institutional reforms and management of a new funding model.

“He will continue to work with partners, such as the African Union and others in the push for the continent's priorities, including Agenda 2063 that he helped shape,” UNECA said.


President Kagame's office was however not available for comment by Press time.

Dr Lopes is said to have met President Kagame earlier this month in Kigali, together with Rwandan economist Donald Kaberuka, the former president of the African Development Bank, who is also anticipated to be part of the team. Others in the team include Strive Masiyiwa, the Econet Wireless founder and Cameroon's Acha Leke, a senior partner at the global consultancy firm McKinsey & Company.

Both Dr Lopes and Dr Kaberuka have played crucial roles in developing a new self-financing model for the AU, which is aimed at cutting its bulky dependence on donations from the West.

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President Kagame is expected to table the roadmap for the transformation agenda at the AU summit in January.

Before Joining UNECA, Dr Lopes served as the executive director of the UN Institute for Training and Research in Geneva and also as a director of the UN System Staff College in Turin.

Appointed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon in September 2012, he became the eighth executive secretary of UNECA– established in 1958 to promote economic and social development as well as intra-regional integration in Africa.