New York

22 September 2019

Deputy Secretary-General's opening remarks at joint meeting between United Nations and African Development Bank with Heads of State and Government of African Countries [as prepared for delivery]

Your Excellences, Heads of State and Government,

Honorable Ministers,

President of the African Development Bank,

Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa,

Distinguished participants.

I am pleased to have this opportunity to discuss with you ways to strengthen the partnership between the African Development Bank and the United Nations to accelerate our work for the Sustainable Development Goals in Africa.

I bring you warm greetings from the Secretary-General, who attaches great importance to our partnership with the African Union, and the African Development Bank.

Let me start by underscoring the strong convergence between the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the African Development Bank’s “High Fives”, which enables us to work with greater coherence in support of the African agenda and the national priorities

I would also like to note the progress that has been made in implementing the AU-UN Framework for Implementation of Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which was signed last year. 

We are aligning and integrating the development objectives of Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda into national development plans.

In driving its own agenda, the region launched the Africa Continental Free Trade Area which will boost African economies by harmonizing trade liberalization across the continent, fostering a more competitive manufacturing sector, and promoting economic diversification. As one of the largest free trade areas in the world, the African Continental Free Trade Area demonstrates the strength of African unity and the huge positive impact such unity has on the future of African people.

The UN stands ready and together with the African Development Bank to support consolidating Africa into one free trade area and ensuring that the risks of increased competitive pressure, adverse working conditions and job losses in some economies and economic depletion are mitigated.

Indeed, much is on the move across the continent -- from strengthening data ecosystems and promoting gender inclusion, to advancing technology and addressing conflict.

To build on these efforts and fast-track sustainable development, African countries need to invest in key infrastructure and social services and strengthen institutions and governance.

Reducing inequalities and addressing climate change are also critical, as is harnessing the capacities of young people, investing in peaceful societies and building resilience.

But as we are all keenly aware, the investment requirements are vast, with estimates ranging from $600 billion per year to as much as $1.2 trillion.

In one out of every five African countries, domestic revenue is insufficient to meet the basic state functions. The continent therefore needs a massive scaling-up of private capital and investment to complement the efforts of governments.

The role of the African Development Bank is crucial. The AfDB and other multilateral development banks can use their capital to de-risk investments and channel financing to large-scale projects aligned with the SDGs.

At the national level, we need to establish enabling business environments to attract private financial flows and move towards long-term finance. It is equally important to strengthen capacity to design bankable projects.

At the same time, there is an urgent need to take aggressive steps to ensure accountability for public expenditures and to stop illicit financial flows.

The UN is ready to work with countries, the African Development Bank and other international financial institutions to help governments develop financing strategies, and mobilise financing in line with national sustainable development priorities. 

Times are ripe for every country’s NDCs to become aligned with the SDGs.

We are entering a Decade of Action for Delivery of the SDGs.

Let us discuss how best the UN and the African Development Bank can work in common to support your countries in this endeavour.  

A reformed and dedicated United Nations remains your steadfast partner.

I look forward to hearing your insights.

Thank you.