Carlos Lopes, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) has underlined the need for Africans to address the causes of conflict and insecurity in Africa towards progress and improved economic performance on the continent.
Carlos made the remarks on Wednesday at the opening of the 28th ordinary session of the AU Executive Council, which is being held under the framework of the 26th AU summit, at the AU headquarters in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa.
"Inequality between groups rather than individuals is probably the foremost cause of conflict in Africa. It exists on three mutually reinforcing levels; economic, social and political. Relatively deprived groups seek or are persuaded by their leaders to seek redress," stated the Executive Secretary.
"Exclusion, the extreme manifestation of inequality, is a major factor igniting conflicts. Of particular attention is the exclusion of youth," he noted.
Carlos stated that of the 54 African states only 8 have not experienced armed or violent conflict since independence.
He further stated that an estimated loss of 284 billion U.S. dollars for 23 African countries due to conflicts between the years 1990 and 2005.
"This figure represented then an average annual loss of 15 percent of the GDP (gross domestic product). Regression analysis indicates a loss of about 2.2 percent GDP growth due to conflict," he said.
"The interrelated nature of African economies also means that the costs of war within a sub-region generally result in economic costs for neighboring countries. These include production losses through loss of opportunities deriving from migration, trade loss, increased costs of security and policing and the costs of supporting refugees," said Lopes.
He said Niger's read GDP growth reduced to 3.6 percent in 2013 after expanding by 11.1 percent in 2012.
He also mentioned the negative impacts of conflicts on economic performances of African countries including Mali, DR Congo, and Libya.
"In DR Congo internal investment as a percentage of GDP dropped from 31.6 percent in 1997 to 17.7 percent in 1998 and reached its lowest level of 2 percent in 2000," he said.
Carlos underlined the need to address the causes of conflicts in Africa towards progress and change on the continent.
"The message is clear. African priorities either deal upfront with the causes of conflict, or everybody will pay the price for fragility perception," underlined the Executive Secretary.
If Africa wants to follow suit of Asia and other regions towards progress and change, "there is a need for boldness, a common security framework and squarely accept the challenges of exclusion and managing diversity," he emphasized.