Challenge for Leaders is Delivery, Deputy Secretary-General Tells High-level Event on 10 Years of New Partnership for Africa’s Development, Millennium Goals

7 October 2011

Challenge for Leaders is Delivery, Deputy Secretary-General Tells High-level Event on 10 Years of New Partnership for Africa’s Development, Millennium Goals

7 October 2011
Deputy Secretary-General
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Challenge for Leaders is Delivery, Deputy Secretary-General Tells High-level Event


on 10 Years of New Partnership for Africa’s Development, Millennium Goals


Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro’s remarks to a high-level event to mark 10 Years of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development and the Millennium Development Goals: “Progress, Challenges and the Way Forward”, in New York on 7 October:

I am pleased to join you to mark the tenth anniversary of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).  I thank the organizers for making this gathering possible.  I am especially pleased that we are examining Africa’s progress in reaching the Millennium Development Goals.  This subject is very close to my heart.

We have come a long way.  When NEPAD was adopted, it broke new ground.  The main priorities were clear and urgent: poverty eradication and sustainable growth.  NEPAD framed the response around Africa’s most precious resources: its human resources, especially its women and girls.

NEPAD was designed as a launch pad to catapult Africa to a prosperous future.  This initiative was absolutely home-grown.  The concept was simple: Africa should own the African development process.  Leaders from the continent, and also ordinary men and women, were to be the driving force.  NEPAD naturally envisaged a role for international partners — but the process was fundamentally led by Africans themselves.

The Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme and the Africa Peer Review Mechanism were just two of NEPAD’s flagship initiatives.  The overall aim was to promote good governance and create the preconditions for broad-based economic growth.  All of these efforts brought us closer to the Millennium Development Goals.

Thanks to the efforts of hard-working Africans and the support of development partners, these past 10 years have seen remarkable economic progress.  The continent’s average economic growth from 2002 until last year was an impressive 5.5 per cent.  In recent years, Africa was home to 6 of the world’s 10 fastest-growing economies.

Sub-Saharan Africa has been one of the few regions in the world to show great resilience in the face of the global economic crisis.  All of these positive signs are translating into gains for the Millennium Development Goals and the African people.  Governments scaled up investments in education, health, agriculture and food security.  More children got the schooling they deserved.  More farmers were able to plant their crops.  And more families received health services and care.

The benefits reverberated across the continent.  We saw progress in struggles that are central to Africa’s development — like the fight against HIV and the battle for women’s empowerment.  We have brought the end of malaria deaths well within sight.

But the African child who gets an education still may not find a decent job.  The African woman who enjoys greater gender equality still may die in childbirth.  The African patient receiving antiretroviral drugs still may fall victim to bacteria from poor sanitation.

That is why our current push to accelerate progress towards the Millennium Development Goals is so important.  The sobering truth is that we have achieved only limited progress towards the overarching goal of reducing poverty by half.  Many African democracies remain fragile.  A number of countries are mired in conflict.  Drought, desertification and climate change still take their toll.

Africa is at the top of the United Nations agenda.  The Secretary-General and I, as Chairs of the Millennium Development Goals Africa Steering Group and its Working Group, are striving to ensure that multilateral institutions support Africa.  We are focused on the Goals that Africa is not on track to reach.  We are building partnerships.  We are mobilizing concessional and innovative financing.  And we are helping countries share best practices.

As the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals approaches, we are determined to strengthen support for NEPAD and its institutions.  Through the Millennium Development Goals Acceleration Framework, we help national Governments overcome the main obstacles to progress.  We are working especially closely with the African Union to strengthen the continent’s capacity to reach its development goals.

We will continue to help build skills and technological capabilities.  We will press on in helping mobilize domestic resources and foreign direct investment.  And we will support Africa’s industries so that they can become more competitive.

Some years back, the late Wangari Maathai was asked what she thought of NEPAD.  She said: “The NEPAD document itself, when you read it, looks very good.  But the test of these initiatives is delivery.  The challenge is in the leadership.  Are they going to engage in a series of talk shops or are they going to be seriously interested in bringing out change?  We have to see.  The taste is in the pudding.”

This great daughter of Africa, this remarkable fighter for social justice, left an important legacy.  But she also left us this challenge: to turn words into actions.  In that spirit, let us pledge to deliver on the promises of NEPAD and all the Millennium Development Goals.

I wish you fruitful deliberations and I thank you for your attention.

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