Ladies and gentlemen,
All protocols observed,
I am pleased to be with you for this Seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development, which coincides with the beginning of the Reiwa era in Japan, an era of beautiful harmony – by the way, a harmony we need badly all over the world.
I thank Japan for its commitment to Africa, as exemplified by TICAD.
Since its launch 26 years ago, TICAD has evolved into an open, inclusive and multilateral forum for mobilizing and sustaining international support for Africa’s peace, security and sustainable development.
I see Africa as a dynamic continent of opportunity where winds of hope are blowing ever stronger.
TICAD has played a critical role in focusing international dialogue on Africa, built on the twin principles of African ownership and international partnership.
Its partnerships have made important contributions to Africa’s economic transformation through entrepreneurship and trade.
They have supported increased access to health services, education, water and sanitation, and helped promote peace and stability.
The theme of TICAD 7: “Advancing Africa’s Development through People, Technology and Innovation” is timely.
Technology and innovation are central to unleashing Africa’s vast potential and realizing our shared vision of leaving no one behind.
Since TICAD 6, African nations have made significant progress in the areas of sustaining growth, strengthening governance, promoting health and education, addressing conflict, promoting gender equality and accelerating regional cooperation and integration.
The launch of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement in July at the African Union Summit in Niger is a particularly important milestone.
This can open up vast opportunities for trade and investment.
Realizing the potential of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement will require investment in regional infrastructure and infostructure to connect African countries by land, sea and air and through telecommunications in the digital era.
This will reduce cost of doing business and improve the continent’s competitiveness.
Investing and improving education is another key to unlocking Africa’s potential.
Much more work is needed in this area to expand access to education and to enhance its quality.
We must equip people of all ages for work in the 21st century.
A lack of sufficient investment in education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics can hold back Africa’s growth and depriving its youth of opportunity.
TICAD 7 may provide tremendous impetus to help Africa harness the power of technology and innovation for its sustainable development.
It is imperative that we work together to close the digital divide and take profit of the technological advances to enable African nations and economies to prosper.
Africa’s sustainable future also hinges on our collective efforts to address the growing climate emergency.
African countries are already bearing the brunt. Africa gives a minimum contribution to climate change, but it is in the frontline suffering its dramatic consequences.
And we have only a narrow window of time to take bold and decisive action.
That is why I am convening a Climate Action Summit in New York on 23 September, where I am asking leaders from governments, businesses and civil society to come with ambitious announcements that will help us rise to this existential challenge.
Finally, realising Africa’s potential also hinges on peace and stability.
While long-term prospects for the continent are promising, armed conflicts and violent extremism are a significant obstacle to continent-wide sustainable development.
The issues are complex, but we must pay particular attention to the links between peace and security, development, good governance, inclusion and building resilience to climate change.
Africa needs peace for its development.
I call for enhanced partnerships in support of the African Union Silencing the Guns initiative.
And I thank Japan for its generous support to the Triangular Partnership Project since 2015 through funding and the provision of trainers.
So far, 330 uniformed engineers and 2,700 uniformed signals personnel have been trained and deployed to field missions, including the African Union Mission in Somalia.
Ladies and gentlemen,
From day one as Secretary-General, I have been determined to forge ever closer ties between the United Nations and Africa and, in particular, the African Union.
I am pleased to say there has been a quantum leap in our strategic cooperation with the African Union.
We are today much better positioned to address shared challenges.
Our two Organizations are working closely together, not only on peace and security, but also on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the African Union’s Agenda 2063 are complementary and mutually supportive.
I welcome the TICAD 7 Yokohama declaration and its implementation as a vital way of scaling up partnerships for peace and sustainable development in line with those two agendas.
I look forward to productive discussions over the next days that will culminate in a common understanding of the priorities for common and coherent action to promote peace and sustainable development across Africa.