Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
Africa is at a critical juncture. As the UN Secretary-General said, “Today the world looks at Africa in a different light, one of hope and admiration for the progress that it is making”.
This view is shared by many, both inside and outside the continent.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), and it is an opportune time to pause and reflect on the implementation of the NEPAD agenda.
In today’s Special Briefing, in addition to updating you on recent progress and developments in the implementation of NEPAD and on the causes of conflicts and promotion of durable peace in Africa, as presented in the two Secretary-General’s reports on those subjects, we will also provide you with a review of a decade of achievements and challenges and the way forward in the implementation of NEPAD and the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM).
Allow me also at the onset to commend Dr. Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, Chief Executive Officer of the NEPAD Agency, for his excellent leadership in steering the work of the Agency during the last three years, and to congratulate Mr. Assefa Shifa for successful achievements as head of APRM’s Secretariat.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
Progress and challenges
During the first decade of the 21st Century, Africa’s economy grew on average at around 5 per cent annually. This performance was experienced by most countries, including resource-rich and non-oil producing countries. This robust growth allowed the continent to quickly set itself back on the recovery path following the 2008 global economic downturn. This performance was underpinned by sound macroeconomic and structural reforms, a more stable political environment with a decline in conflicts and an expanding role for the private sector in the economy.
It should also be acknowledged that NEPAD sector-specific interventions have been critical in this improved performance.
In the last decade, NEPAD has established itself as the Africa-owned and led development programme that is endorsed and supported by the United Nations and the international community. During this period, the UN System and the international community provided extensive support to NEPAD in the areas of peace, security, democracy, good governance, respect for human rights and sound economic management as preconditions for sustainable development. This has been evidenced by alignment of NEPAD priorities in the programmes of all development partners.
Since then, much progress has been made in key priority sectors such as infrastructure, agriculture and food security and ICT, to name just a few. However, critical challenges remain. In particular, there is a need to capitalize on key achievements and ensure further and more equitable growth. In this context, I call for a renewed commitment by the global community to leverage its partnership to further accelerate growth in Africa.
Today, as Africa is benefiting from increased interests on all fronts and renewed attention to its development needs, it is time to enhance our genuine partnership and support for the speedy implementation of NEPAD.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
Before I give the floor to Dr. Mayaki to elaborate more on the 10 years assessment and the way forward for the NEPAD programme, let me brief you on the recent developments in the implementation of the NEPAD programme and in the field of peace, security and development in Africa as captured by two UN Secretary General reports produced by my Office, namely:
(a) New Partnership for Africa’s Development: Ninth consolidated progress report on implementation and international support (A/66/202); and
(b) The causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa (A/66/214-S/2011/476);
I. New Partnership for Africa’s Development: Ninth consolidated progress report on implementation and international support (A/66/202)
Actions by African countries and organizations
Over the past year, African countries and organizations continued to advance the implementation of NEPAD sectoral projects and programmes in areas such as agriculture, health, education and training, environment, information and communication technology and infrastructure development. On the governance front, the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) continued to expand its membership and the number of peer reviews.
Among the recent noteworthy developments has been the endorsement by the 16th AU Assembly of the AU-NEPAD Presidential Infrastructure Champion Initiative (PICI) aimed at accelerating the development of regional and continental infrastructure. The initiative comprises seven regional projects drawn from the AU/NEPAD Africa Action Plan and would go a long way in addressing the interconnectivity gap to unleash Africa’s potential.
With respect to agriculture and food security, six additional countries have signed their national Comprehensive Agriculture Action Development Programme (CAADP) compact bringing the total to 26 as of July 2011, of which 20 have prepared or finalized their national investment plans, and are now working on financing and implementation modalities. There has also been notable progress in meeting the Maputo 10 percent budgetary target for agriculture, as 10 countries now meet the target, compared to only 5 countries in 2009.
Regarding Information and Communication Technology (ICT), “NEPAD e-Africa Commission” was replaced by “NEPAD e-Africa Programme” to drive the ICT priority sector following a decision by the 15th session of the NEPAD Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee, in line with the new strategic orientation of the NEPAD Agency. Among the key achievements, 80 demonstrations of NEPAD e-Schools have been implemented in 16 African countries, where each school in the demonstration project has been equipped with a computer laboratory containing at least 20 personal computers, as well as a server and networking infrastructure and peripheral devices such as scanners, electronic whiteboards and printers.
As far as gender issues are concerned, the NEPAD/Spanish Fund for African women’s empowerment continued to develop essential tools for poverty alleviation by training numbers of women and girls in economically viable vocational as well as business management skills, and by creating employment opportunities through public and private partnerships.
In the area of governance, over the last year, efforts have been expanded to streamline and improve APR processes and instruments. The APRM membership was enlarged to 30 African countries with the official accession of Liberia in January 2011. As of the end of July 2011, 14 countries had been peer reviewed, including Mauritius and Ethiopia that were reviewed during the last 12 months.
From these few examples, African countries and continental organizations are making all effort to advance the sustainable growth and development agenda.
Moreover, Africa’s growth, albeit still strong by international standard, is fraught with uncertainty, related to both the fragile global economic outlook and political instability in the sub-regions. For these reasons we need a strengthened global partnership to facilitate the realization of NEPAD’s objectives and the MDGs.
Response of the international community: Building on the momentum of international support for Africa’s development
Turning to the international community’s support to Africa, the past year has witnessed some renewed commitments and interests on the still challenging situation faced by many Africans.
The UN Summit on the MDGs, held in September 2010 in New York, adopted a global action plan to achieve the MDGs by their target date, and devoted special attention to Africa. The Millennium Villages project continued to accelerate progress towards achieving the MDGs in target areas, including, increased school enrolment and attendance due to better school meal programmes; reduction in malaria prevalence through increased bednet use; and increased access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation. Approximately 500,000 people have been reached. Progress reports after the first three years of operation indicate that the project approach is effective. A number of countries are studying the lessons learnt to develop their own national strategies that would seek to emulate these successes.
The G8 Summits that took place in Canada, 2010 and in France, 2011 reaffirmed the G8 partnership with Africa. In the Muskoka Initiative on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, G8 member countries committed to spending an additional US$ 5 billion between 2010 and 2015 to achieve MDGs 4 and 5 in developing countries. The 2011 G8 summit in France reaffirmed the partnership with the adoption of the G8/Africa Joint Declaration on Shared Values, Shared Responsibilities. The Summit launched the Deauville Partnership, which lends support to the new democracies in North Africa and committed to provide US$ 20 billion through multilateral development banks to support sustainable and inclusive growth in Tunisia and Egypt.
In late 2010, the Group of 20 also launched its development initiative, the Seoul Development Consensus for Shared Growth, which puts emphasis on promoting economic growth through infrastructure development and job creation.
More recently, at the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries, held in May 2011 in Turkey, the Istanbul Programme of Action (IPoA) and the Istanbul Declaration were adopted for the period 2011-2020, to ensure sustained economic growth and poverty reduction for the LDCs including Africa. Eight priority areas were identified as follows: productive capacity including infrastructure, energy; science and technology; private sector development; agriculture, food security and rural development; resource mobilization for development and capacity-building; trade; commodities; human and social development including women’s empowerment; addressing the impact of multiple crises and emerging challenges such as climate change and sustainability; and good governance at all levels.
Given Africa’s huge financing gap, external resources continue to play an important role in augmenting domestic savings. According to the OECD, total ODA to Africa rose by 11.7 per cent in real terms, from $44 billion in 2008 to $48 billion in 2009. Yet, ODA to Africa is still falling short of the targets set at the 2005 Gleneagles Summit.
With respect to Debt relief, efforts to relieve the external debt burden of African countries continued within the framework of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) debt initiative, the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI), and those on a bilateral level. As a result, the amount of debt and debt servicing have been drastically reduced since their peak in the mid-1990s. Over the past year the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia and Togo, have seen their debt reduced by significant amounts. Overall, 26 African countries have reached completion point in the HIPC Initiative.
Regarding foreign direct investment (FDI), inflows to Africa continued to decline after reaching their historical peak in 2008. According to UNCTAD preliminary estimates, in 2010, FDI flows to Africa declined by 14 per cent to US$ 50 billion, due in part to the lingering effects of the global economic and financial crisis.
Very limited progress was made in the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations as well as in the Economic Partnership Agreement negotiations between the European Union and African regional groupings.
During the past year, South-South Cooperation grew steadily and strongly. Regional groupings such as the Arab states and countries like Brazil, China, Viet Nam, Iran, India and the Arab states extended and deepened their partnerships with Africa to foster sustainable development. Further, the G-20 Seoul Development Consensus for Shared Growth formalized the new role for emerging economies in the global arena.
Support by the United Nations system
During the period under review, the UN system continued to provide technical and institutional support to the AU’s NEPAD programme. The Regional Coordination Mechanism (RCM) recorded significant achievements as evidenced in an enhanced coordination on the part of UN agencies and programmes. Specifically, the “Delivering as One” concept gained increased acceptance, with agencies recognizing the need to adopt a collective approach to support capacity–building in the AU. The eleventh session of RCM on the theme “Rio+20”, held in November 2010, achieved significant outcomes, especially relating to the implementation of the Ten-Year Capacity Building Programme for the AU (TYCBP-AU).
The last 12 months have seen good progress in the implementation of the NEPAD agenda. Yet, critical challenges remain and in some instances get reinforced by the tumultuous developments in the global economy and the political tensions within the continent. As we celebrate the 10th anniversary of NEPAD, we are entering a new phase in the implementation of the NEPAD programme. This phase will require resolutions and leadership to turn Africa’s development vision and international commitments into policy actions and results. “Business as usual” should not be an option.
A viable partnership with Africa should focus on addressing high youth unemployment, promoting agricultural production and food security, prioritizing actions to achieve the goals of the African women’s decade 2010-2020, developing intra-African trade and enhancing African institutions at all levels to ensure good economic and political governance.
II. Implementation of the recommendations contained in the report of the Secretary-General on the causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa (A/66/214-S/2011/476)
Turning to the second report, I will brief you on the assessment of last year’s major developments on peace, security and development in Africa and examine the implementation by the United Nations system of key priority areas identified in my review report.
Further, in keeping with the mandate of General Assembly resolution 65/278, which called for policy proposals on how to best respond to emerging challenges, the report provided an in-depth analysis of two of the most pressing issues in Africa, namely “youth, education and employment” and “conflict and natural resources”
During the last 12 months, we have seen a democratic and largely peaceful independence referendum in Southern Sudan and transition into a sovereign nation. We have had a successful soccer World Cup in South Africa, the adoption of a new constitution in Kenya, the transition of Guinea and Niger from military to democratic civilian rule, and the people-driven changes in Egypt and Tunisia. All these experiences are contributing to a change in old perceptions about the continent.
Clearly many challenges remain. We continue to have pockets of armed conflict, fragile economies and weak states where erosion of the rule of law and chronic poverty continue to impact negatively the lives of citizens, in particular women and children. In Eastern DRC and Côte d’Ivoire, in particular, human rights violations, the targeting of civilians and the use of sexual violence in conflict are of grave concern.
Revolts in North Africa, and most recently in some parts of sub-Saharan Africa, have resulted in sustained violence and, in Libya, in broad violence with more than 650,000 leaving the country since the start of the conflict. Similarly, violent demonstrations, terrorist attacks, contested electoral processes and unmanaged diversity all continue to pose a strategic challenge for Africa and for its partners within the international community.
Beyond, the report underlines the argument that good governance and political stability are critical to economic development and growth in Africa, and proposes practical recommendations to address two of the most pressing issues, “youth, education and employment” and “conflict and natural resources”.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
An estimated 60% of Africa’s population today are under 35 years old. This is a critical constituency. One key recommendation in the report is that the General Assembly, the Security Council and the UN system should deepen their engagement with youth to facilitate their participation in the decision making processes. Youth marginalization is often a trigger for conflict. Engaging youth through formal and informal consultations will help identify and address key sources of social, political and economic discontent.
Similarly, the RCM needs to mainstream issue of the youth into all clusters and support sectoral priorities, as identified by NEPAD, capable of securing investments and facilitating the creation of jobs for young people.
With regard to conflicts and natural resources, agencies and governments should work together to include programmes to promote responsible, equitable, gender-responsive and economically-productive resource management in national poverty reduction strategies of conflict and post-conflict countries in Africa.
Such programmes should consider the effective use of indigenous knowledge and practices in natural resource management, particularly in the mitigation and adaptation to the impact of climate change. One example of such practices is local mediation mechanisms for land use.
Where conflict over natural resources already exists, the UN should support a national dialogue on the role of natural resource revenues with a view to defining an inclusive growth and development strategy and promoting a more accountable and transparent use of natural resources, including through the enforcement of effective anti-corruption policies. This should be done in coordination with community-based institutions, regional economic communities and AU-NEPAD.
In concluding my briefing to you, I would like to remind you that the perception of Africa is changing towards hope and opportunities. Still, we have a shared responsibility as global partners to ensure that this perception becomes reality.
I thank you for your kind attention.