28 May 2008


28 May 2008
Deputy Secretary-General
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York



Following is the text of UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro’s address to the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV) in Yokohama, Japan, today, 28 May:

I am delighted to be here at the TICAD IV and I feel proud to be part of the organization of this historic Summit.  I extend to all of you warm greetings from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.  Our special thanks go to Prime Minister [Yasuo] Fukuda and the Government of Japan for generously hosting this event, which exemplifies this country’s strong commitment to Africa’s development.

We also thank the people of this beautiful city of Yokohama for their warmth and generosity.

Japan, the second largest economy in the world, initiated the TICAD process in 1993, when focus on Africa’s concerns was drifting.  Japan helped rally Africa’s development partners in a collective and forward-looking effort.  The years that followed brought more progress, in some cases more than we had even hoped for.   Japan deserves major congratulations and thanks for standing by Africa’s side.

In 2000, at the Okinawa Group of Eight (G-8) Summit, former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori initiated a dialogue between Africa and G-8 leaders, which I am happy to say has continued ever since.

The TICAD process engendered a policy dialogue based on the principles of African countries taking ownership of their development and the international community supporting Africa’s efforts.  This is also the basis upon which the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) was founded.

Economic ties between Asia and Africa have expanded rapidly in recent years, with trade and investment between the two increasing significantly over the last decade and a half.  For instance, the share of Africa’s exports to Asia roughly tripled between 1990 and 2005, to over one quarter of total African exports.  Asia’s foreign direct investment in Africa has also been growing rapidly, albeit from a small base.  Expanding support to investment in infrastructure in Africa is another noteworthy trend.

Moreover, Excellencies, the TICAD framework has helped motivate a number of other developed and emerging countries to strengthen their own cooperation with Africa, hence enabling opportunities for African countries to expand partnerships on their own terms.

The overall theme of this Conference, “Towards a Vibrant Africa: a Continent of Hope and Opportunity”, is a positive and constructive vision of the continent.  And it fits the strong economic performance we’ve seen recently in many African countries.

Over the past four years, sub-Saharan Africa’s growth rate has been about 6 per cent on average -- the best in several decades, but still below the growth rate needed to halve extreme poverty by 2015.  There has also been an improvement in macroeconomic management.

Economic growth has been accompanied by a decline in armed conflicts on the continent.   Africa is working for its own peace and security, including through the African Union Peace and Security Council and the Panel of the Wise.  Regionally sponsored peace agreements, supported by African peacekeeping and peacebuilding mechanisms, have become the norm.

In the meantime, NEPAD has rallied the support of the international community.  Its major initiatives are being carried out in priority areas like governance, infrastructure and agriculture.

The need for higher investments in agriculture has been highlighted by the vulnerability of many net-food importing countries to the steep rise in food prices over the past year, which threatens to drive millions of Africans further into poverty.   It is time for intensified support by the international community and African Governments to build productive, resilient and sustainable agricultural sectors.  Climate change and its expected impact on agriculture in Africa makes this task all the more urgent.

To address this major concern, Excellencies, the Secretary-General has established a Task Force on the Global Food Crisis.  The Task Force brings together United Nations specialized agencies, funds and programmes, as well as the Bretton Woods institutions.  Its main purpose is to develop a comprehensive strategy for both immediate and long-term action with a view to responding to emergency needs, developing long-term solutions, including through bridging agricultural production gaps and improving market access.

The effects of the food crisis on many African countries only remind us of the daunting challenges still facing the continent in spite of the progress made so far.

As we are passing the midpoint in our endeavours to attain the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, we remain concerned that Africa as a region is lagging.  Based on current trends, no African country is likely to achieve all the Goals.  An effective and immediate response is required.

This TICAD Summit is an opportunity to galvanize support for Africa’s efforts to reach the Millennium Development Goals.  With a concerted drive by African Governments and their development partners, we can accomplish these Goals for a better world.

Secretary-General Ban is leading the effort.  He has convened the MDG Africa Steering Group, which brings together international financial institutions and other development partners to find bold but feasible ways of reaching the Millennium Development Goals.  The Steering Group is supported by a working group that I have the honour to chair.  Its main purpose is threefold.  Firstly, to review how to strengthen international support to African Governments in scaling up investments in health, education, agriculture and food security, infrastructure, trade facilitation and national statistical capacity; secondly, to urge better predictability in official development assistance (ODA); and thirdly, to enhance collaboration at the country level to support African countries in operationalizing the Millennium Development Goals.

I am pleased to inform you that the MDG Africa Steering Group has agreed on a set of concrete, action-oriented recommendations which can be executed immediately, based on existing commitments to scale up ODA to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

Among other key areas, these recommendations aim to launch an African green revolution within the framework of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) to accelerate economic growth and combat hunger; investing in quality education to achieve the Education for All Goals by 2015; and strengthening health systems.

They also aim at phasing in child-survival interventions to reduce child mortality rates; and investing in transport, energy, water and sanitation, as well as boosting broadband connectivity to accelerate Africa’s integration into the global economy.

If fully implemented, these measures can help save millions of lives, tackle illiteracy, hunger and malnutrition, and ensure that African countries can compete successfully in world markets.  Secretary-General Ban and other Steering Group members, some of whom are with us today, count on your commitment and support.  They will soon be writing to you to advance this important agenda.

To reach the Millennium Development Goals and other internationally agreed development goals, donor countries must meet their commitments to increase the volume, quality and predictability of ODA.

On the other hand, African countries have to continue to enhance peace and security, practice good governance and create sound policies conducive to positive public-private investments, which could enable and sustain economic growth.

Given the critical need to re-energize the partnership between Africa and the international community, the United Nations will convene two high-level events in New York in September this year: firstly, a General Assembly-led meeting on 22 September to ensure a stronger partnership that can deliver on Africa’s development needs; and, secondly, on 25 September, an event focused on the Millennium Development Goals, jointly convened by the President of the General Assembly and the Secretary-General to review progress, reaffirm commitments and identify concrete measures for advancing the achievement of the Goals.

I hope this TICAD Summit will conclude on a high note to remain consistent with its theme of hope and opportunity.  To do this, its plan of action should be as specific as possible, with clear follow-up measures to enhance trust and a sense of ownership among all partners, and ensure effective implementation on the ground.

By delivering concrete results, the TICAD process can make a real difference in the lives of millions of peoples in Africa, in particular children, who embody our hope for a tomorrow.

The United Nations dedication to this cause is unwavering.  The stakes are high.  The time is now.  This gathering of leaders can make a major contribution to the future of Africa and the world. I wish you all success in your deliberations.

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