It is a great pleasure to join you to mark Africa Week 2016.
As I approach the end of my tenure as Secretary General, I welcome the progress that Africa has made in recent years.
African countries have accelerated growth and witnessed rising per capita income. Reforms have increased the region’s attractiveness to business. The continent has also made notable gains in increasing access to primary education, advancing gender equality, reducing child mortality and rolling back malaria. I am pleased that the African Steering Group for the Millennium Development Goals and various multi-stakeholder initiatives contributed to those efforts.
Africa’s voice was central in shaping the landmark 2030 Agenda for the Sustainable Development, as well as the Addis Ababa Action Agenda for financing the new framework.
I am also pleased that 14 African states are among those that have ratified the Paris Agreement on climate change. Thanks to that support, we have now passed the two thresholds for entry into force, and the Agreement will take effect on November 4th. African countries have done little to contribute to climate change but will be among those most affected. I am encouraged that we now have a framework, including for financing and technology transfer, that can help Africa to mitigate and adapt to this threat.
Governance systems in Africa are also improving, especially through the African Peer Review Mechanism, although weaknesses are still visible. While a large number of African countries have organized multi-party elections on a regular basis, too frequently their credibility has been questioned, pushing countries to the precipice of conflict. We have also seen other efforts to undermine democratic practices, including by leaders themselves taking dubious steps to stay in office beyond their constitutionally mandated terms. The international community needs to support African countries, working with all relevant national and regional stakeholders, including the APRM, to improve good governance, and the conduct of elections and to ensure that civil society has the freedom to play its vital role.
Over the past ten years, the United Nations has spared no effort to support Africa in the achievement of peace and security. We have been supporting the implementation of the African Peace Security Architecture in moving ahead with the AU initiative to silence the guns by 2020, and working alongside the African Union to advance peace in the Great Lakes, the Sahel, the Horn of Africa and other troubled spots. Conflicts in South Sudan, Sudan and elsewhere continue to cause horrific suffering, with impacts ranging far and wide across the continent.
Looking ahead, it will be crucial for African governments to align their development planning with the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063. Parliaments, the private sector, civil society, women and youth organizations, trade unions, philanthropists and other actors have crucial roles to play.
South-South and triangular cooperation will also be important. The last Forum on China-Africa Cooperation pledged over $60 billion over the next 5 years. Similarly, the most recent Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) established by Japan and others pledged over $30 billion over the next 3 years, just to mention a few.
But Africa will also need support for its regional projects, not just bilateral support. The First Ten Year Action Plan of Agenda 2063 includes ambitious regional projects such as a High Speed Train Network, a Virtual and E-University, and an Outer Space Agency. I encourage Africa’s partners, including the private sector to support these efforts.
Within the UN system, the 2030 Agenda has given us renewed impetus to improve coherence to deliver as one at the country, regional and global levels. We have also strengthened the office of my Special Adviser, and I want to thank Under-Secretary-General Maged Abdelaziz for his hard work.
I have been honoured to attend every African Union Summit, and to visit dozens of African countries, many of them multiple times. I have drawn inspiration from the resilience and determination of African people from all walks of life, sometimes working in the most difficult of circumstances.
An age-old African word of wisdom reminds us: “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together”
The road to 2030 is long and arduous. If we are to achieve our collective global vision of delivering a life of dignity for all and leaving no one behind, we all need to work together in unison and with vigour.
The United Nations will continue to be Africa’s strong partner.
I thank you very much.