Africa Commission’s Focus on Youth, Support of Higher Education in Africa Critical to Continent’s Future, Deputy Secretary-General Tells Copenhagen University

15 May 2009

Africa Commission’s Focus on Youth, Support of Higher Education in Africa Critical to Continent’s Future, Deputy Secretary-General Tells Copenhagen University

15 May 2009
Deputy Secretary-General
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York





Following are Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro’s remarks at a panel discussion at the University of Copenhagen on 7 May:

It gives me great pleasure to join this distinguished panel of Commissioners and to discuss with you the key initiatives we have proposed in the report of the Africa Commission.  Thank you, Madame Prorektor, for hosting us and for your generous introduction.

I am heartened to see so many young people here today to discuss African development.   Africa’s youth is its greatest asset and we want to do everything possible to ensure it is given the means to realize its full potential.

We are grateful for Denmark’s contribution to African development.  Like other Commissioners, I looked to my service in the Africa Commission as an opportunity to add even more value to this contribution.

I grew up in the 1970s.  At that time, Denmark’s support for development in my country, [ United Republic of] Tanzania, was something I could see tangibly on the ground.  I benefited from, amongst other things, the good work of two teachers from Denmark.  We appreciated your solidarity then, as we do now.

Indeed, you should know that I am a long-time admirer of Denmark’s contributions to the causes of peace, human rights and development.   Denmark was -- and remains -- one of the first countries to devote at least 0.7 per cent of its national income to development assistance.  The Africa Commission’s focus on private-sector led growth and youth employment provides a natural complement to Denmark’s consistent support for public investment to reduce poverty.

I would like to make a few basic points to help stimulate our discussion today.

First, I think the Africa Commission’s recommendations and its five practical initiatives to which the Minister alluded provide welcome support for our efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals in Africa.  I’m glad that Madame Minister made reference to the Goals and the sense of common purpose they embody.  My fellow Commissioners have spoken of the importance of human capital and every one of the Goals is focused on building human capital, improving competitiveness and enhancing growth to reduce poverty.

The United Nations system will be an active partner in assisting in the implementation of the Commission’s initiatives.  It has been a privilege to serve on the Commission.  And it has been a unique opportunity as an African woman to contribute to our development.

Second, I want to underscore the synergies between public and private investment in the pursuit of development.  We need both.  In the past, we’ve placed perhaps too much emphasis on public investment.  The Commission’s efforts to refocus our work on private-sector growth could not come at a better time.

Third, we need donors to fulfil their aid commitments now more than ever before.  We need aid combined with our own domestic resources in well-rounded packages.  Private capital flows have dried up for many African countries.  In some cases, aid is the only source of financing.  But we know that aid is not sustainable nor sufficiently predictable to fuel long-term growth.  We need to use aid to support the engine of growth in the private sector.  The African Commission’s recommendations show the way.

If Ngozi and Don Kaberuka are committed to following up on your efforts to create private-sector jobs, then I am committed to monitoring and evaluation!

Fourth, the Commission’s focus on youth -- and its initiative in support of higher education in Africa -- are critical to Africa’s future.  There is no better place than a university to make this point plainly.   Africa’s development must be led by African’s themselves.  The Africa Commission’s initiatives will help equip a new generation of leaders to advance the cause of their continent.

I look forward to discussing the Commission’s work with you.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.