ADDIS ABABA, It is crucial for Africa to address the challenges of bringing about rapid, sustainable and equitable socio-economic progress which can relieve hundreds of millions from the quagmire of poverty and social injustice, says Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonen.

Opening the 17th Regional Seminar for Labour-based Practitioners here Monday, he said it was this ultimate goal which had brought the participants together in the Ethiopian capital, adding that the a goal was one which demanded unified efforts in farsighted decisions which impact the life of each and everyone across the continent.

More than 400 researchers, policy-makers and practitioners are taking part in the four-day seminar.

Demeke stated that Ethiopia’s international and regional commitments as well as national endeavours had borne testimony to its determination to create conducive investment and infrastructure development policies for job-rich inclusive growth.

Ethiopian Transport Minister Ahmed Shide noted that despite impressive economic growth over the last decade, Africca was still facing challenges of unemployment, under-development and poverty. “This situation is further complicated by the recent global economic crisis as well as the negative effects of climate change and the low capacity to adapt,” he added.

According to him, the government of Ethiopia recognized these challenges and had been taking appropriate policy measures and implemented a number of programmes to address the multi-pronged challenges and set examples in applying labour-intensive infrastructural development.

Ethiopian Roads Authority Director-General Araya Girmay stated that Ethiopia would share its experiences and learn from others in labour-based, job-creating initiatives during the meeting.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) Regional Director for Africa, George Okutho, pointed out that an Employment-Intensive Investment Programme is one of the ILO’s tested approaches to promote full and productive employment and is intended to influence public and private investments on job-rich sectors.

He appreciated Ethiopia’s effort in implementing labour-based infrastructure development in all areas of the country and said the ILO would continue supporting Ethiopia in this regard.