Chapter II: C. Development of Africa

An aerial view of Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire. UN Photo/Basile Zoma

One of my highest priorities is to strengthen United Nations efforts in Africa. To reinforce this commitment, my first trip as Secretary-General was to attend the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa in January, where I met with the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat. In April, I convened in New York the first United Nations-African Union Annual Conference, where we pledged to strengthen and deepen cooperation and underscored the importance of the strategic partnership between the two organizations in efforts to promote sustainable development, peace and security and human rights on the continent.

Africa today, like other parts of the world, presents a dynamic yet contradictory picture of progress and challenges. On the one hand, economic growth in several African countries surpassed that in other parts of the globe, and the data encouragingly show that enrolment in primary education in sub-Saharan Africa improved dramatically from 52 per cent in 1990 to 80 per cent in 2015, while the reduction in child mortality rates has also been significant. Yet some parts of Africa face threats and challenges involving protracted violence and human insecurity that undermine development. Continued conflict has meant that three of the four countries currently facing severe threats of famine are located in Africa.

Economically, the continent remains highly commodity dependent, while, as a result of the volatility in global commodity prices, unstable export income in many African countries has significantly affected economic growth patterns. Future challenges also confront the continent. Projected population growth estimates show Africa as the fastest-growing region of the world (see figure IV), with a growing youth population that will reach about 60 per cent of the total population by 2050 (see figure V). These young people require education, jobs, housing and health care, thereby putting pressure on Governments to deliver. 

The continent can take advantage of this demographic dividend by investing in quality education, teacher training, technology and innovation, which would boost productivity, create jobs and promote inclusive growth and prosperity. Scaling up investments and strengthening the ability of institutions to deliver innovative solutions will involve multilateral partnerships, which the United Nations can facilitate. Providing opportunities and empowering women and youth as a development goal will be essential. 
The 2030 Agenda is key to Africa’s future, and the United Nations is working closely with its partners in Africa towards a mutually reinforcing implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, in harmony with the African Union’s Agenda 2063. To promote these synergies, the United Nations and the African Union have together adopted a common reporting architecture with a single monitoring and evaluation framework. Furthermore, in December 2016 the General Assembly adopted the Framework for a Renewed United Nations-African Union Partnership on Africa’s Integration and Development Agenda 2017-2027 (resolution 71/254). These dynamics require a concentrated effort, and it is in the interest of every country in the world to focus on preparing a strong future for Africa.