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DSG/SM/1511
2 December 2020

Africa-Europe Partnership Can Transform Pandemic Crisis into Long-Term Recovery, Says Deputy Secretary-General, Urging More Financial Support for Continent

Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s remarks, as delivered, at the fifth meeting of the High-Level Group of Personalities on Africa-Europe Relations, today:

I am honoured to join this eminent Group of Personalities from Africa and Europe — this platform is a powerful tool to pool together leadership, expertise and solutions to help the continent make the most out of the EU-Africa (European Union-Africa) partnership.  I would like to thank the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, the Friends of Europe and the One Campaign for its initiative and for inviting me to join you today.

You are meeting at a critical time.  As the world faces the COVID-19 pandemic and its dire consequences, the work of this eminent Group takes a renewed importance.  Now more than ever, we must leverage solidarity and collaboration within and across regions — and there are few examples as inspiring as the long-standing and diverse EU-Africa relationship.

Over the years, the AU (African Union) and the EU have worked hand-in-hand to advance a green transition and digital transformation in Africa; to enhance the benefits of trade for the people in both continents; to prevent crisis; and advance sustainable development.

The unprecedented global crisis ushered in by the COVID-19 pandemic demands even more of leaders in the two continents.  It requires an even more strategic and ambitious use of the resources, tools and know-how the EU-Africa partnership has to offer.  After all, COVID-19 has laid bare the fragilities of our societies across the globe.  Africa — and Europe — are no exceptions.

But in doing so, the crisis has also offered opportunities for a better recovery; for green transitions; for a more equal international economy and financing architecture; for more just societies; [and] for a generational shift that empowers women and youth to contribute to a better future for all.

In responding to the crisis, massive investments and stimulus packages are being deployed.  New economic paradigms are being considered.  This opportunity cannot be squandered.  Every investment made in the COVID-19 response must translate into an investment in longer term recovery.  As Secretary-General Guterres said this morning: “It is time to flick the ‘green switch’.  We have a chance to not simply reset the world economy but to transform it.”

An inclusive world will help ensure that people can enjoy better health and the full respect of their human rights and live with dignity on a healthy planet.  The good news is that the world already has a plan — and so does Africa, with the 2030 and 2063 Agendas clearly outlining the path to recovery and a better future.

The world also has the technologies, skillsets and resources to change the game — but these must be scaled up, realigned and better leveraged to ensure recovery happens across the world.

I trust that Africa and Europe, together, can lead the way.  For more than a decade, the partnership has been guided by a joint Africa-EU strategy.  The UN’s own development collaboration with both the African Union and European Union is guided by recently agreed partnership frameworks.

These strategies can help enable and catalyse African leadership and domestic resources in a number of key areas — from an ambitious “African Green Deal”, to ensuring mutually-beneficial trade provisions (CFTA), to creating educational and job opportunities to youth.  The potential is immense.

Supporting Africa in mobilizing additional international financing for the recovery from COVID-19 and its road towards 2030 and 2063 will be absolutely essential.  Furthermore, the private sector and multilateral development banks need to fully engage to make this a reality.  We must also look to special drawing rights, restructuring sovereign frameworks and the credit rating agencies to unlock Africa’s potential to survive this crisis.

Africa and the EU can continue to count on the UN — our expertise and convening power at the country level are there to help maximize the impact of your partnership in each country and community. 

Solidarity and partnerships are instrumental to achieve the Africa we want.  And so is leadership — first, from within the continent.  But also, global leadership to ensure we recover better.  It is in that spirit that I wish you productive deliberations and look forward to your ideas and leadership in ensuring the EU-Africa people leadership continues to have a tangible impact on the ground.

You can continue to count on the United Nations as you chart the road ahead.  I have no doubt that the personalities gathered today will continue to make a difference for the people we serve.  Thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.