|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Press Conference on Africa-New Partnership for Africa’s Development Week 2013
The critical need to enhance Africa’s cross-border trade and sustainable development while building a mutually beneficial infrastructure informed the decision to promote the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa, the Chief Executive Officer of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) told reporters at a Headquarters press conference today.
Also in attendance were Maged Abdelaziz, Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Africa, and Fatuma Nyirakobwa, Deputy Chair of the Panel of Eminent Persons, African Peer Review Mechanism. Margaret Novicki, Chief of the Communications Campaign Service in the Strategic Communications Division of the Department of Public Information, moderated the discussion.
Ibrahim Assane Mayaki said that the Programme, developed by the African Union Commission, NEPAD and the African Development Bank, was designed to transform Africa and bridge its massive infrastructural gap.
“At the moment, Africa is the least integrated continent in the world, with low levels of intraregional economic exchange and the smallest share of global trade,” he stated. In addition, infrastructure inefficiencies were costing the continent billions of dollars annually and stunting growth.
He noted that the 51 Programme projects would lead to a robust regional system, fuelling international trade, job creation and sustainable economic growth. Those projects would be spread across the four infrastructure sectors: energy, transport, transboundary water and information and communication technology. Through those projects, Africa’s global competitiveness would improve, thereby boosting socioeconomic growth and development on the continent.
Mr. Mayaki also pointed out that the ongoing 4,500-kilometre Algiers-Lagos Trans-Saharan Highway, the North-South Transport Corridor covering 2,800 kilometres of road and rail networks between South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Kinshasa-Brazzaville bridge road and rail project would reduce transport costs between the countries and boost intra-African trade.
NEPAD was also harnessing support in the agricultural sector, he continued. Under the African Bioscience Initiative, biodiversity, biotechnology, indigenous knowledge systems and technology were being engaged to address challenges, while empowering small farmers, especially women, to boost productivity and better environmental management on the continent.
Commending the partnership between NEPAD and the Departments of Political Affairs and Public Information, Mr. Abdelaziz highlighted the work of the Departments in coordinating and integrating activities to promote African issues and development. The Office of the Special Advisor on Africa and the African Peer Review Mechanism had been established a decade ago and had, over that time, worked closely together towards fulfilling their mandates.
The Mechanism, Ms. Nyirakobwa said, was a collective pledge by African leaders to address the challenges of bad governance, persistent poverty and underdevelopment. It was the governance flagship of the African Union, designed to promote the adoption of policies, standards and practices that would lead to political stability, high economic growth and sustainable development through sharing experiences and reinforcement of successful best practices, and addressing identified governance shortcomings.
Over the last 10 years, she went on to say, the Mechanism had achieved increased citizen participation in political and economic management, among others. Member States were also utilizing its recommendations. The Mechanism had monitored the implementation of international and African instruments acceded by member States.
Pointing out that engagement was on a voluntary basis, she said that, currently, 33 member States of the African Union had acceded to the Mechanism, while 17 countries had completed the first review process. As well, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa and Uganda had completed the first cycle of implementation and were now preparing for a second review.
Responding to reporters questions on NEPAD activities, Mr. Mayaki emphasized the importance of putting NEPAD on the international agenda as Africa’s own development agency. He also stressed the need to mobilize resources to support the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africaand called for greater efforts to address the “massive” poverty in Africa.
Answering a reporter’s question on development, peace and security in Africa, both Mr. Mayaki and Mr. Abdelaziz spoke of the need for a durable peace that would enable Africans to benefit from the lofty objectives of NEPAD and the Mechanism, as well as the many other efforts and agendas being implemented.
Mr. Abdelaziz also added that the Secretary-General, during his recent visit with the World Bank Group President to Africa’s Great Lakes region, had reiterated the need to achieve peace and security in order for growth and development to thrive.
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