AFRICA FACES CHALLENGES, BUT ‘SEEDS OF HOPE’-- EDUCATION, WOMEN’S RIGHTS, AGRICULTURE GAINS –- EXIST, MUST BE NOURISHED, SAYS SECRETARY-GENERAL, IN DAR ES SALAAM ADDRESS

27 February 2009
SG/SM/12114-AFR/1816

AFRICA FACES CHALLENGES, BUT ‘SEEDS OF HOPE’-- EDUCATION, WOMEN’S RIGHTS, AGRICULTURE GAINS –- EXIST, MUST BE NOURISHED, SAYS SECRETARY-GENERAL, IN DAR ES SALAAM ADDRESS

27 February 2009
Secretary-General
SG/SM/12114 AFR/1816
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

AFRICA FACES CHALLENGES, BUT ‘SEEDS OF HOPE’-- EDUCATION, WOMEN’S RIGHTS, AGRICULTURE

GAINS –- EXIST, MUST BE NOURISHED, SAYS SECRETARY-GENERAL, IN DAR ES SALAAM ADDRESS

Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s address “Dealing with a Changing World:  African Solutions to Africa’s Challenges”, delivered in Dar es Salaam, 26 February:

It’s a great honour for me to address a group of such informed and learned people in Tanzania, comprising all sectors of life in Tanzania.  This is to me one of the challenges:  how to impress you today.  I have been speaking to many different groups of people and, whenever I meet the people who I believe should know what I am going to say, it is a very big challenge for me.  So, Ambassador Mahiga, if you already know what I am going to say, just shut your ears.

This is my first visit as Secretary-General [to Tanzania], but this is not the first for me personally.  It is the third time.

The second time, I was here as a candidate for the post of the Secretary-General.  At that time, I met some of you, and you told me that, if you could vote, you certainly would vote for me.  Back then, I was very grateful for your support.  Now, I am here as Secretary-General and I agree that your judgment was right and I hope you will continue to support me in my role as Secretary General. 

Tanzania has an important place in Africa, and in its future. 

Julius Nyerere’s greatest legacy is your country’s sense of national pride and national unity.  Christians, Muslims live peacefully together in this country.  You have transcended ethnic divides.  This is an important example for Africa.  But President Nyerere was also a pioneer in his support to non-Tanzanians, offering sanctuary to members of the liberation movements of Southern Africa and also in providing refuge to many from all over east and central Africa.

This year will mark the tenth anniversary of his passing.  I would like to honour his memory today by sharing some thoughts about Africa and its future.  I am going to address not only the issues of Tanzania, but I would like to discuss with you overall issues pertaining to Africa and Africa’s role in the international community.

When journalists or scholars write or talk about Africa, normally they talk about poverty, corruption, coups d’etat or regional conflict.  Africa is commonly seen as a series of disasters and failures.  But I think this is a misconception.  I have been telling many of my constituencies that Africa is a land of opportunities, and Africa has a great potential.  It is only the matter of timing; it’s only the matter of will and commitment to explore this potential.  One day, I tell you when this potential is fully explored; you will see explosive energy.  This explosive energy will create great strength and power on the African continent, in African countries.

It is true, at this time, Africa faces tremendous challenges, as advanced by the fact that none among 53 countries in the African continent appears on track to be able to meet or satisfy all the targets of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.  And because not a single sub-Saharan African country is on track to realize the MDGs [Millennium Development Goals], I will today focus on how we can explore Africa’s potential.  We must not let Africa’s successes be undermined by global crises.

Last month, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, I urged donors not to forget their commitment to the world’s poor.  I met with partners and allies, political leaders, business executives and philanthropists.  I told them that, now more than ever, it is time to deliver on your promises and on your commitment to help Africa.  If we fail to get Africa on board in development and prosperity, it will be hard to argue that we are living in a harmoniously prosperous society.  Therefore, I told them that, Africa is worth investing in.

Let me give a few examples.

President Julius Nyerere was known throughout Africa and the world as ‘mwalimu’ because of his background as a teacher.  He would be proud to hear of Tanzania's massive gains in primary education enrolment –- 97.2 per cent in 2008, last year.  Uganda and Kenya, too, are on track to reach universal primary education. 

Tanzania has also achieved gender parity in primary school education.  So too has Rwanda.  I believe that the first-ever female President of Liberia, Johnson Sirleaf, would agree to this, and so I think the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, and former Foreign Minister of Tanzania, Dr. Migiro, will agree with that.  Gender equality and women’s empowerment are priorities for Africa.

In Rwanda, 56 per cent of parliamentarians are women; that’s more than 50 per cent.  Women make up approximately a third of the Cabinet in South Africa.  They are helping to drive progressive change.  Governments in Africa, and beyond, can learn from their example.

Countries could also learn from Malawi.   Malawi used to be very poor, particularly in terms of agricultural production.  In 2005, they faced a famine.  In response, the Government began subsidizing fertilizers and high-yielding seeds for small farmers.

In four years time, they moved from recipient to being a donor country.  In two years time, most recently, they have doubled the production.  This model can be replicated.  Zambia, Ghana, Senegal and Kenya have announced similar plans.  Now, in the middle of all this food insecurity, Africa can feed itself and, in the midst of many diseases, Africa also guarantees its own health. 

Uganda has a successful ABC programme to combat HIV/AIDS.  That stands -- ABC -- ‘Abstinence, Be faithful and Condom’.  HIV rates have dropped from 18 per cent in 1995 to 6.4 per cent in 2005. 

In Kenya, the Government has increased immunization coverage to more than 80 per cent of its people.  There is even better access to drugs, including free antiretroviral drugs.  In West Africa, there has been real progress on the fight against malaria.

There are other positive examples.  I call them seeds of hope.  We must nourish them for the sake of ordinary men and women everywhere.  Wherever I go, these are the people I would want to speak for.  As we are sitting together with the Minister of Health, we are nearing the complete eradication of polio, with only four places in the world still combating the disease.  Very soon, we will see the eradication of polio.  We will be able to see the extinction on our list of malaria.  My special adviser on malaria is a bit more ambitious, he told me that we could eradicate malaria by 2010, but many people advise me that it’s a bit ambitious.  But I trust that, by 2015, there will be no more malaria.  And last year, I convened the Millennium Development Goals Summit meeting in the General Assembly.  In the midst of the financial crisis, we mobilized $17 billion for that.  I was very much encouraged by all this commitment by world leaders.

We cannot deny that Africa faces serious challenges.  Its true ones that I want to address is climate change.  No region of the world will be more affected than Africa at this time.

I have declared 2009 the year of climate change -– not just because we need to reach agreement by December this year in Copenhagen on a new global package to follow suit to the Kyoto Protocol.  Because we need a global green new deal.  The global economic crisis can only be truly solved with new approaches on climate and energy.

We know what is needed. 

Wealthy nations need to make deep cuts in emissions.  Developing countries need more help in adapting to the consequences of climate change.  They need more financial and technological support, and institutional resources to achieve results, and to grow their economies in a green way.

We need to recognize that Africa has special needs.

We need a fund for adaptation.  Particularly for African developing countries.  We need innovative solutions for drought.  New technology for irrigation.  Drought-resistant seeds.  Rainwater harvesting.  Help to protect essential watersheds and financial incentives to protect forests.

We need partnerships.  Those with financial resources and technological know-how must team up with those who need them.  There is clearly some irony when they say, that those countries, like African countries, who have contributed the least, the minimum, to the current global warming phenomenon have to be responsible for them, which those industrialized countries, since the industrial revolution, had contributed most to this phenomenon, they cannot be equally responsible.  Therefore, the international community has agreed on a common principle that, while we have to address global warming issues, there must be a sense of shared responsibility, but in a different way.  This is common, but differentiated responsibility.  Therefore, I have been urging industrialized countries that this campaign be led by industrialized countries, European Union and Americans and all OECD [Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development] members and G20 [Group of 20] members, they are historically responsible to address this issue.  But, this is not the time to point a finger at one another, because we are all affected, we are all impacted, so we must overcome this one together, but there should be some clear differentiations.

This is a message I will take to the G20 summit in London in April.  The G20 marks a critical point on the road to Copenhagen.  We must achieve consensus on the need for a global green stimulus package.  And we must agree on how it will be achieved.

After consultations with so many world leaders, I think there are four political targets or even prerequisites for us to achieve progress in meeting the challenges of climate change.  First, we need to collectively agree on the scientifically informed mid-term target by 2020 for industrialized countries in their mitigation efforts.  The industrialized countries have been talking about long-term goals, long-term targets by 2050.  When it comes to 2050, people become more generous knowing that it will be 40 years after, now we want the mid-term target by 2020.  This is a global challenge requiring a global response through global partnership.  There is no developed nor developing countries, there is no African nor European countries, this will come to all of us, this will come to planet Earth.  Therefore, we need to address this issue on a most urgent basis, in a most serious way.

Second, we must agree on the full scope of mitigation measures for developing countries.  Developing countries cannot also just stay away from this course.  They have to be a part of this process.

Thirdly, we must agree on a clear timetable and predictable financing for mitigation and adaptation measures for developing countries facing this problem.

And fourthly, we must agree on the governance structure and mechanism to channel financial and technological support for adaptation and greener growth.

At the forthcoming G20 summit, I intend to remind world leaders about their existing commitments to Africa, just as I did last month in Davos.  Commitments to the Millennium Development Goals must be part of the response to the global recession.

Africa is also suffering from this economic crisis.  That is why I will continue to call on Africa's development partners to keep their promises to the continent, even in these difficult times.

At the Gleneagles summit meeting, G8 [Group of Eight] leaders promised to provide $10 billion each year until 2010, when the funds will be raised to $50 billion.  Taking into account the current pace of inflation, this will amount in 2050 to some $70 billion.  Even so, not much has been forthcoming.  And my message to them is that we must not waver in their commitment to the poorest of the poor.  We must stand by those who are most vulnerable.

We need a truly global stimulus package that protects the world's poor, as well as the rich.  It must be well-coordinated and synchronized.  I have been urging industrialized countries to do their best to help us overcome this global financial crisis.  I welcome their national stimulus packages.  While implementing such packages, they should pay due attention, due regard, to the challenges of developing countries.  Industrialized countries cannot address this issue alone.  Again this is a global issue; therefore, there should be a global response.  Piecemeal, nationalist or protectionist policies will ultimately hurt us all.

And while the developed countries pour trillions of dollars into their domestic economies, who is speaking for the developing economies abandoned to deal with the effects of crisis not of their making?

I will tell them not to lose sight of the big picture.  We must remain committed to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.  We must work to make sure the people of Africa are healthy, well-nourished and educated, so they can drive development and prosperity on this continent.

That is again my message, ladies and gentlemen, to the international community.

But I have also my own message to Africa, African people, African leaders. 

We need peace in this continent, as again President Julius Nyerere said:  “Violence is unnecessary and costly.  Peace is the only way.”

Violence has cost too many lives, too much destruction on this continent.  It has thwarted development for far too long.  Conflict in Somalia, Darfur and the Democratic Republic of Congo must stop.  There is no higher good than peace.

In South Africa yesterday, I spoke with President Motlanthe.  We discussed the ongoing crisis in Zimbabwe.  This is a political crisis and a humanitarian catastrophe.  It is up to us to help, indeed compel, the Government of Zimbabwe to do what needs to be done.  We know what Zimbabwe needs.  Genuine steps towards democracy.  Genuine commitment to sharing power.  Genuine respect for human rights.  And substantial injection of international aid and resources to start the long road to recovery.  All of these are interlinked, because, without evidence that a power sharing agreement between the protagonists is real, then economic assistance will be difficult to collect.

While in South Africa, I called for the immediate release of Zimbabwe’s political prisoners as concrete evidence for a real desire for reconciliation.

When I met President Mugabe in Addis Ababa last month, I urged him to please release political prisoners.  I told him that, now that he is about to embark on national unity process, whether perfect or imperfect, I would still welcome the new unity Government.  But not only on the ground of human rights, but also on the ground for the necessity of promoting national reconciliation, it will be a very good political gesture to release the detainees and to adopt amnesty measures.  I sincerely hope that he will heed to the call of international community.  I also called for immediate action to relieve the humanitarian crisis.  Tragically, people are continuing to die every day.  Until yesterday, a high-level humanitarian assessment team that I dispatched there was having very good discussions with the leaders of Zimbabwe.  The United Nations team was welcome there and the Zimbabweans seemed wholeheartedly open to the efforts of this international community to address the humanitarian issues.  We will mobilize the necessary humanitarian assistance while we hope that there will also be progress in the political process.

The day after tomorrow, I will be travelling to the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

In recentmonths, we have seen an intense escalation of violence.  I ordered United Nations troops to stand firm against it.  Despite our limited resources and capacities, we did our best.  We saved tens of thousands of civilian lives.  I am very proud that many of our peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo are Africans as they are in Sudan.  They are helping find African solutions to African challenges.

Today’s situation on the ground in DRC is very different.  I believe we have every reason for hope.  Not only in DRC, but also in Somalia and Burundi.  I would like to commend Tanzania’s role and continuous support for the peace agreement in Burundi and for nurturing this difficult transition.  I particularly commend the leadership role of President Kikwete as Chairman of the African Union and also as President of Tanzania.

On Monday, I will be in Sharm el Sheikh, in Egypt.  There, I will meet with African and other world leaders to help the people of Gaza.

As you know, I recently visited Gaza.  I stood in the United Nations compound, which was still burning at the time.  I saw how extraordinarily difficult life has become for Palestinian people in Gaza.  It is up to us to help Gaza rebuild.  The people need food.  Medicine and water and sanitation.  The children need schools.  And they need to live free from fear.  It is up to us.  Now, we must not fail them.

In closing, let me say the obvious.  Never have the demands on us been so great.  The United Nations is being asked to do more than ever in its history.  Coordinating the fight against climate change; making the MDGs a reality, not just a promise.  Being a force for peace and security in ever more places around the world.

By the same measure, never have regional organizations such as the African Union been asked to do more.  Expectations are high.  We must work together.

I would like to pay tribute to President Kikwete for his leadership of the African Union over the past year.  The African Union is playing an ever greater role in promoting and preserving peace.

It has shown itself willing to act in difficult situations, from West Africa to Darfur and Somalia.  Where there have been unconstitutional changes of Government, as in Guinea and Mauritania, the African Union has taken a lead.  It has demanded a quick return to constitutional legality.

Such commitment to fundamental principles –- the United Nations principles -– is essential to everything we aspire to.  The Millennium Development Goals.  Peace and justice.  Accountability.  Good governance.  The rule of law. 

These things are indispensable.  They must be fought for and vigorously defended.  They must never be taken for granted. 

Here in Tanzania, we are working with the Government to improve governance and fight corruption.  We are working to help the country adapt to climate change, improve the environment and ensure food security.  We are working to improve the health and educational opportunities of hundreds of thousands of ordinary people.

It is my belief, ladies and gentlemen, that we are providing a good example of partnership for development.

Such examples are sprouting all across Africa.  Often, they have United Nations backing.  Sometimes, they are driven by the private sector.  Other times, they are the brainchild of an individual or a community group, or the result of Government policy. 

If this is the essence of leadership, then partnership is the essence of effectiveness.  It is a big part of the reason we can point to so many success stories.

Tanzania’s achievements in primary education, Rwanda’s progressive attitude to women’s rights, Malawi’s impressive advances in agricultural productivity –- these are seeds of hope for Africa.

While I am serving as Secretary-General, I promise to do everything in my power and authority to ensure that these seeds of hope receive the nourishment they deserve.

* *** *

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