Reconfirming the Development of Africa as a Priority of the United Nations System
“THE AFRICA WE WANT: RECONFIRMING THE DEVELOPMENT OF AFRICA AS A PRIORITY FOR THE UNITED NATIONS SYSTEM”
Since the early days of Africa’s decolonisation, the countries of the continent have sought a deepened engagement with this Organisation in the quest for a rebalanced global development that assures for its people, the broad human aspiration for growth and development, sustainable livelihoods, prosperity, peace, and security. The fact that 60 years after the adoption of resolution 1710 (XVI), which launched the first United Nations Development Decade, 33 out of the 55 countries on the continent are classified as Least Developed, can only be a reflection of the broken assumptions on cooperation and the lack of credibility of the structures that support international development.
We know the objectives we need to pursue and have always known the goals that are required to achieve effective international development; yet decade after decade we are thrown into a neverending cycle of recommitment, not backed by the required resources or political will. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the level of international cooperation that the empowered world has been prepared to offer and in the midst of the ongoing geopolitical context, we have seen where priorities are prepared to be established.
This meeting is therefore the time to be clear and we hope that the dialogue will advance ideas to recalibrate and prioritize Africa’s partnership with the UN development system and suggest ways in which African regional initiatives can be complemented by UN efforts. I. would therefore want to highlight three key messages.
First, without a doubt, Africa is conscious of and committed to its own development, as reflected in the adoption of Agenda 2063, which in large measure, and in many parts, has close alignment with the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. However, confronted with a historical legacy of drained financial resources from the continent, it would be important for the cost of global capital to be discounted by the moral imperatives of the past in support of Africa’s ambitious aspiration, including for the implementation of the SDGs. The continent would also have to steadfastly tap into growth potentials such as the Africa Continental Free Trade Area agreement and its Pan-African Payment Systems to unlock new funds for its development. New funds can also be unlocked through the nascent carbon markets, debt swaps, boosting private sector investment including private philanthropy.
Secondly, we are in a global crisis which impact the financially less endowed countries more. And in this time and at this very moment, If history were to be our guide, then we must recognise that the challenges we are facing are eerily reminiscent of the economic and social crisis of the 1980s and that failure to act in a swift and all rounded manner would threaten the democratic gains that have been made on the continent. Ghana therefore calls for global solidarity and partnership to address the food and energy crisis and to resuscitate struggling economies. I believe that for the countries of Africa, this, in the short term, is best reflected through support for continental initiatives such as the African Development Bank’s US$1.5 billion Emergency Food Production Facility as well as its call last May in Accra, Ghana for Africa’s envisaged share of the US$100 billion SDR reallocation to be channelled through the Bank in order to enable it create leverage
and extend the reach of the envisaged finance.
Thirdly, the work of the UN system on Africa as well as those of the international financial institutions must be aligned to the aspirations of Africa. This may require a restructured international financial system in the long run, but in the short term cannot ignore the necessity for UN development programmes to be African-led and driven as well as for lending facilities to be concessional and debt sustainable. Equally important, developed economies must genuinely commit to help stop the illicit financial flows from the continent, which UNCTAD estimates at around USD$88 billion every year. Not least significant would be the support required by regional development banks such as the AfDB to mobilise resources for both state and non-state actors on the continent; the establishment of a Pan African credit rating agency which will enable the continent to avoid the non-contextualised assessments that lead to aggressive downgrades and assures fairness in ratings; and the development of sovereign risk pools in order to spread financial risks evenly amongst participating member states.
Concluding, it is my fervent hope that today’s high-level dialogue would not just be another high-level platform for flowery speeches and platitudes. I therefore urge the UN development system and other development partners not to join the chorus of rhetoric and inaction, but rather join in a rhythm of bold, coordinated and urgent global action and solidarity by plugging into existing
regional initiatives as we work in tandem to build the Africa we want and need.
I thank you.