Realizing the shared vision of “leaving no one behind” of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the African Union’s Agenda 2063 is contingent on the international community’s ability to mobilize resources, transfer technology, and forgive debt, delegates told the General Assembly today.
“We cannot succeed elsewhere if we have not succeeded in Africa,” said Assembly President María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés (Ecuador), also adding that Africa is “at the heart of everything that we do” at the United Nations.
Welcoming the fact that the United Nations-African Union partnership is stronger than ever, she commended the Secretary-General for the quality of his reports on the matter. His sixteenth progress report on implementing the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) (document A/73/269) showed that countries in Africa are making steady progress. Physical integration of the region is mirrored in financial integration as exemplified in the African Continental Free Trade Area. These developments point to major shifts towards achieving a peaceful Africa. However, greater support is needed to sustain progress, she added.
[The Assembly also considered his biennial report reviewing implementation of the commitments made towards Africa’s development (document A/73/270) and a report on the causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa (document A/73/273).]
Morocco’s representative, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said there is no doubt that the United Nations-African Union partnership is key to accelerating the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063. He reaffirmed the NEPAD commitment to implementing priority development programmes and stressed that Africa cannot be allowed to fall behind. “Sustainable development is a collective opportunity and responsibility that should be achieved through multilateral cooperation,” he added, highlighting that agricultural development has the real potential to improve the lives of millions of people. Africa remains disadvantaged in the pursuit of sustainable development. Debt relief is essential.
The representative of Egypt, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, recognized the complementarities between Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda. Realizing the shared promise of the two Agendas “leaving no one behind” is dependent on the world’s ability to mobilize resources and transfer technology, he said, expressing deep concern that such financing for Africa has declined in recent years. To complement the continent’s efforts to address peace and security obstacles and achieve sustainable development, the international community must boost support to national and regional initiatives. Member States must also meet their aid commitments.
Providing a different perspective, Libya’s delegate warned that African Union efforts may be causing the crisis in his country to deteriorate. Political instability and armed conflict prevent Libya from safeguarding its borders, thus transforming it into a transit route for transnational criminal networks. He urged countries of origin from which migrants flee to tackle the root causes that feed crime.
Countries from other regions, including Europe, Asia and the Middle East, shared how their Governments are contributing to Africa’s development through public-private partnerships, social programmes and financial support.
Israel’s delegate said her Government has worked with its African partners in the field of health care, agriculture, education, women’s empowerment, innovation and entrepreneurship. About 70,000 trainees have benefited from training programmes within Israel and on-site courses throughout the continent.
The representative of the Russian Federation, while sharing areas in which his country is providing funding, emphasized that African nations need to independently determine their policies to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. This must be based on their national priorities, he stressed.
“Sustainable development in Africa cannot be achieved by African countries alone,” emphasized Indonesia’s delegate, adding that all States share the responsibility to ensure the continent is not left behind.
Bangladesh’s representative said that serving as Chair of the Group of Least Developed Countries over the past three years has informed him about the challenges Africa faces. Bangladesh has similar development challenges, he said, adding that sharing experiences and best practices is vital.
African countries also outlined how they mobilize domestic resources to finance development programmes. While reaching the global and regional development agendas is primarily the responsibility of national governments, they also underscored the need for foreign investment and international assistance.
Ethiopia’s delegate, along those lines, said supporting Africa is “the right thing to do” to demonstrate global solidarity and cooperation. Africa remains the “litmus test” of how successful the international community will be in implementing sustainable development targets, he added.
Also speaking were the representatives of Viet Nam (on behalf of Association of South-East Asian Nations), Thailand, Kuwait, Qatar, Canada, India, Myanmar, Italy, Algeria, Norway, Panama, Sudan, Japan, Ghana and Cameroon, as well as the European Union.
The Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 25 October, to take up the report of the International Court of Justice.
MARÍA FERNANDA ESPINOSA GARCÉS (Ecuador), President of the General Assembly, said it is reassuring that the United Nations-African Union partnership is stronger than at any other point in history. The implementation of the Joint United Nations-African Union Frameworks for an Enhanced Partnership in Peace and Security and for the Implementation of Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development requires the support of the international community. She applauded Africa for contributing nearly half of all peacekeeping forces and the largest number of female peacekeepers. Further on gender issues, she commended Ethiopia for achieving gender parity in its parliament.
She commended the Secretary-General for the quality of the reports before the General Assembly and said that the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) report showed that countries in Africa are making steady progress in priority areas. Physical integration of the region is mirrored in financial integration as exemplified in the African Continental Free Trade Area. These developments point to major shifts towards achieving a peaceful and integrated Africa. However, greater support is needed to sustain progress, she said, adding that African countries have made great strides in tackling threats to peace and security. “Africa is at the heart of everything that we do at the United Nations. We cannot succeed elsewhere if we have not succeeded in Africa,” she concluded.
OMAR HILALE (Morocco), speaking on behalf of the African Group and associating himself with the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said there is no doubt that the United Nations-African Union partnership is key to accelerating the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063. The African Group appreciates the recommendations contained in the Secretary-General’s report, he said, assuring the Assembly that NEPAD remains committed to implementing priority development programmes and further initiatives already being taken by African nations. He thanked development partners for their assistance and called on them to promote and maintain macroeconomic stability. Africa cannot be allowed to fall behind in the digital age and called on the international community to achieve a people-centred technology strategy.
He stressed that agriculture remains central to the African development agenda and has the potential to improve the livelihoods of people in the continent. Through adequate investment, agriculture can contribute to intra-African trade and development. The 2017 signing of the Framework on Peace and Security and implementation of Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda demonstrate the commitment of the United Nations and African Union to align their cooperation in priority areas. “Sustainable development is a collective opportunity and responsibility that should be achieved through multilateral cooperation,” he said, voicing concern about the growing debt crisis in the region. Africa is at a disadvantaged position in the pursuit of sustainable development, and debt relief is essential to the continent’s efforts to implement the Sustainable Development Goals. Stopping illicit financial flows will provide the region with increased resources to finance critical development projects, he said, calling on development partners to assist in programmes to increase transparency in national tax systems.
MOHAMED FATHI AHMED EDREES (Egypt), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, said that the African Union’s Agenda 2063 demonstrates the continent’s shared vision and action toward peace and development. He recognized the complementarities between Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda, stressing the need to continue to mobilize international support for the implementation of regional and international development frameworks. Realizing the shared promise of the two Agendas “leaving no one behind” is contingent on the world’s ability to mobilize resources and transfer technology. The Group emphasized the critical role of official development assistance (ODA) and foreign direct investment which remain major sources of financing of development in Africa.
Expressing deep concern that such financing for Africa has declined in recent years, he urged those who have not fulfilled their aid commitments to do so. African countries have taken numerous steps to address national and regional security challenges. To complement and strengthen the continent’s efforts to address peace and security obstacles, the international community must boost support to national and regional initiatives aimed at ending all wars in Africa. It is also essential to promote the effective and efficient implementation of relevant frameworks to maximize results on the ground.
DANG DINH QUY (Viet Nam), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, reaffirmed regional support for Africa towards realizing shared aspirations of the 2030 Agenda. Noting the improvement in Africa’s economic situation, he also highlighted the persistent challenges in agricultural productivity and food security, economic diversification and market access, and the lack of financing and capacity. It is encouraging to see many African countries continue to intensify their efforts and seize opportunities to accelerate progress toward sustainable development.
The Asian region will continue to work with its partners in Africa to uphold the values of multilateralism and to honour international frameworks and agreements, he/she said. ASEAN will continue to focus on strengthening its partnerships with Africa in agriculture, education, information and communications technology, trade and investment and infrastructure development. In November 2017, manufacturing and technology firms from across Southeast Asia and Africa converged in Johannesburg for the first Africa-ASEAN Business Expo and Forum. This event aimed to create a platform to link businesses from Africa and ASEAN and catalyse trade and investment opportunities between the two regions.
ELISABETH PAPE, European Union, welcomed findings that African countries continue to make progress toward implementing NEPAD priorities and recognized the importance of infrastructure for the continent’s industrialization and regional integration. Through its external investment plan, the European Union is enhancing the scale of its support by crowding in investments from financial institutions and the private sector. These efforts are set to leverage 44 billion euros in investment by 2020, she noted. She said the European Union is the most important destination for African exports and welcomed the signature of the African Free Trade Agreement. Signatories must allow for timely ratification, so the Agreement can quickly enter into force.
She said the European Union welcomes NEPAD support to countries pursuing gender parity in education and recommended the scaling up of those efforts into comprehensive national policies. The Union is encouraged by the revitalization of the African Peer Review Mechanism, something that will strengthen African reform agendas, she said. Sharing concerns over the rapid increase of debt levels in many African countries, she warned that excessive borrowing can choke growth and development. “Africa remains a priority for the European Union and its member States,” she said, adding that the bloc will pursue deeper economic relations with Africa.
VITAVAS SRIVIHOK (Thailand), associating himself with ASEAN, said that the relationship between Thailand and Africa has been enriched by growing economic ties, cooperation on sustainable development, peace and stability and public health. Thailand has always been a strong supporter of South-South and triangular cooperation which aims to achieve the 2030 Agenda. Through the Thailand-Africa Partnership for Sustainable Development, his country commits to sharing best practices of its home-grown development approach with Africa in areas including agriculture, human resources development, and public health. He stressed the importance of creating conditions conducive for sustainable peace. Thailand also takes part in past and present United Nations peacekeeping missions alongside many African nations.
TAHANI R. F. A. ALNASER (Kuwait) said United Nations partnerships with the African Union are allowing for implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Kuwait supports all measures to strengthen cooperation with Africa through the African Union as this represents a crucial pillar to support development in the continent. She hailed all joint efforts to implement the 2063 Agenda and 2030 Agenda which will speed up development programmes in Africa and contribute to its lasting structural transformation. She called on the international community to support non-governmental organizations and peacekeeping forces in Africa to promote peace and security. During the 2013 African-Arab Summit, Kuwait announced an agreement to grant preferential tariffs to several African countries, she said, also pointing to her country’s development fund that works with 42 African countries.
OMAR A. A. ANNAKOU (Libya), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said conflicts in Africa are transnational in nature and frequently triggered by myriad factors. Conflict prevention constitutes an integral part of the work of the United Nations and regional partners, he said, asking what those organizations have done to promote peace and security in the region. Libya is plagued by instability, he said, warning that African Union efforts may be causing the crisis to deteriorate. Political instability and armed conflict prevent Libya from safeguarding its borders, thus transforming it into a transit route for transnational criminal networks.
He said countries of origin from which migrants flee must tackle the root causes that feed crime. Once stability is reached in Libya, the country will be able to contribute to regional development programmes. United Nations sanctions regimes have frozen assets in Libya, he said, pointing to efforts by his Government to prevent the erosion of valuable assets. African States are exploiting the Libyan crisis for financial gain, he warned, adding that Libya will take the requisite measures to recuperate lost assets. He said achieving the Sustainable Development Goals requires adequate financial support and efforts to combat illicit financial flows. He called on States to not create tax havens and to stop the erosion of Libyan assets.
NOA FURMAN (Israel) said that over the past 60 years, MASHAV, Israel’s Agency for International Development Corporation, has worked with its African partners in the field of health care, agriculture, education, women’s empowerment, innovation and entrepreneurship. About 70,000 trainees have benefited from training programmes within Israel and on-site courses throughout the continent. The agency follows a “train the trainer” capacity-building approach that ensures African States can rely on their own expertise in future generations. In Ethiopia, for example, MASHAV works with the Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture to promote economic growth in rural areas by organizing workshops in horticulture production and marketing for small farmers. These and other projects benefit local populations and help Africa achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. The work of one Israeli non-governmental organization, Save a Child’s Heart, won the 2018 United Nations Population Award. It provides free heart surgeries to children in need in many African countries. It brings thousands of children to Israel for heart surgeries not available in their home countries and trains African doctors and medical personnel to perform these operations back home. Israel reaffirms its commitment to support Africa’s development.
DMITRY S. CHUMAKOV (Russian Federation) said that African countries are consistently progressing in infrastructure, healthcare, education and information, and communications technology. Lifting tariff and non-tariff barriers will generate momentum for the development of industry and trade. African countries need to independently determine their policies to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals on the basis of their national priorities. Emphasizing the need to boost public-private partnerships on the continent, he also called on the international community to continue providing aid. The Russian Federation provides concessions on trade and proactively works to ease the continent’s debt. Thousands of African students are studying in Russian education programmes, he added, also outlining the Russian Federation contributions to healthcare, jobs, and infrastructure.
AHMAD SAIF Y.A. AL-KUWARI (Qatar) stressed the importance of addressing the root causes of conflict in order to eliminate conflict in Africa. Achieving security, stability and peace for all nations contributes to sustainable development. Qatar plays an important role in the international community toward this end and will continue to support countries dedicated to sustainable development and peace. Qatar has provided financial aid to the African continent and has supported projects in infrastructure, education and health. Moreover, Qatar’s development fund has supported the school enrolment of thousands of African children. While African States have the primary responsibility to develop Africa, the international community also has an important role to play.
LOUISE BLAIS (Canada), emphasizing the importance of listening and learning in contributing to better outcomes, said everyone should support Africa as it works to create opportunities for its youth and meet the ambitions of Agenda 2063 through greater economic integration and prosperity. She underscored the importance of building essential infrastructure, which fuels long-term growth and supports a shift to a low-carbon economy while contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals. As part of its Group of Seven presidency this year, Canada has stressed the need to address the issue of climate resilience and disaster recovery, she said, noting also her country’s efforts in combating AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, its support for Louise Mushikiwabo of Rwanda to head the International Organization of La Francophonie and its participation in United Nations peacekeeping missions in Mali, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan.
INA HAGNININGTYAS KRISNAMURTHI (Indonesia), associating herself with the Group of 77 and ASEAN, said African economies are gaining momentum following an upturn in the global economy and are making progress in the implementation of NEPAD priorities. She welcomed the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area, noting the development can promote intra-African trade and greater economic integration. “Sustainable development in Africa cannot be achieved by African countries alone,” she said, adding that all States share the responsibility to ensure the continent is not left behind. She called for debt relief efforts for African countries and said infrastructure development is important to facilitate trade. “African countries continue to be among the top recipients of Indonesia’s South-South cooperation programme,” she noted, adding that her Government hosted the Indonesia-Africa Forum which led to $586 million in business deals. Indonesia remains committed to supporting peace and stability in Africa as there can be no sustainable development without peace, she said.
ASHISH SINHA (India), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said that long-standing trade and diaspora links across the Indian Ocean, a shared colonial past, and common development challenges have framed India’s relationship with Africa. This development partnership currently includes implementation of 180 lines of credit worth $11 billion in over 40 African countries. Africa’s exports to India are growing as well, he continued, adding that economic ties are now increasingly driven by new innovative partnerships in the digital economy. He pointed to cooperation projects in education, energy and healthcare, adding that India’s medicine has “turned the tide” on diseases that were once a threat to Africa’s future. He further pledged that India will continue to make its partnership with Africa a very high priority.
HMWAY HMWAY KHYNE (Myanmar), associating herself with ASEAN and the Group of 77, said her country has long been a partner of Africa and noted the economic and social progress seen in the continent. Pointing to the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area, she said Myanmar “hopes that the creation of such intra-African trade will engender dynamic economic gains and a more resilient African economy”. Africa still faces persistent and emerging challenges and the international community needs to intensify assistance efforts. Adequate and predictable financing is “indispensable” for the successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063. There is a need to promote closer partnerships with Africa, including through South-South and triangular cooperation. “My delegation hopes that the repositioning of the United Nations development system will further enhance the capacities of the African countries in their pursuit for sustainable development,” she said.
STEFANO STEFANILE (Italy), associating himself with the European Union, said among positive developments, the establishment of the Continental Free Trade Area could help achieve the African Union’s vision of a peaceful and prosperous continent. Because of its history, geography and cultural traditions, Italy has always had a close relationship with Africa. “Our action has always been inspired by African ownership, transparency and shared responsibility,” he added. Italy continues to allocate resources and aid to Africa’s development projects. It is assisting many African countries in various areas and in full respect of the principle of African ownership. On the Sahel, he expressed strong support for the relevant United Nations support plan. Italy has also provided aid to the Sub-Saharan region, he added, also calling for the involvement of the private sector in various development projects.
MAHLET HAILU GUADEY (Ethiopia) said her country has continued to mobilize domestic resources to finance development programmes. While implementing Agenda 2063 is primarily the responsibility of African countries, in an interconnected world, supporting Africa is “the right thing to do” to practically demonstrate global solidarity and cooperation. Africa’s own efforts should be supported by coordinated global action so that the continent is not left behind. Africa remains the litmus test of how successful the international community will be in implementing sustainable development targets. She commended United Nations support in the areas of peace and security, good governance and social justice, and in addressing the root causes of conflict. Ethiopia has opened a new chapter in its history, offering real possibilities of change that will meet the hopes of its citizens and build a just, equitable and sustainable society.
SABRI BOUKADOUM (Algeria), associating with the Group of 77, said it considers the Secretary-General’s consolidated progress report encouraging as it shows the continued progress made by African countries in carrying out NEPAD priorities. Algeria stresses that infrastructure helps the continent’s industrialization and regional integration. It is positive that NEPAD is hosting the project implementation for the African Integrated High Speed Railway Network, aimed at interconnecting all African capitals. Health issues are also crucial for the continent and Algeria appreciates that 12 of the 55 member States of the African Union have reviewed, or are reviewing, their national laws on medicine regulation, in line with the African Union model law. Regarding African labour markets and high youth unemployment, African countries must take measures to equip students with the requisite skills and training needed for the labour markets. Youth employment is an important component to prevent conflicts. Algeria notes that the Peacebuilding Fund provides seed funding for some components of the United Nations Support Plan for the Sahel. Algeria invites the Secretary-General to focus, in the next report, on how the United Nations and development partners are supporting implementation of the Algiers accord for peace and reconciliation in Mali. It is imperative for the African Union, NEPAD, the African Peer Review Mechanism and the African Development Bank and regional economic communities to enhance their work on conflict prevention.
MARI SKÅRE (Norway) said the economies of African countries in general are growing but that growth has not created sufficient jobs for the poor. She called on the international community to step up efforts to assist those most in need and to combat illicit financial flows. Greater cooperation with countries in Africa is essential, she said, noting that her country has opened a permanent mission to the African Union. “Regional organizations play a crucial role in finding sustainable solutions for our common future,” she said. Development assistance remains an important component of Norway’s cooperation with countries in Africa. It is important to encourage women’s leadership and gender equality, she said, congratulating Ethiopia for achieving gender parity in its new Government.
MELITÓN ALEJANDRO ARROCHA RUÍZ (Panama), associating himself with the Group of 77, said the debate is a significant effort to boost dialogue on cooperation for African countries and that the reports before the General Assembly set clear development strategies. Recognizing the nexus between Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda, he commended efforts by African countries to incorporate those Agendas into their national legislation. Africa continues to face challenges to overcome conflict and build peace, he said, adding that Panama is confident in the continent’s potential to drive its own development. Panama trusts the Africa Dialogue Series will strengthen strategic partnerships between the United Nations and African Union. He commended all efforts to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls and said the participation of women is essential to achieving sustainable development. The international community must assist Africa and take note of priority areas identified by countries on the continent. He said the United Nations plays a pivotal role in conflict prevention and that there can be no development without peace.
MAGDI AHMED MOFADAL ELNOUR (Sudan), associating himself with the African Group and the Group of 77, said the Secretary-General welcomed the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area and greater cooperation among African States in the fields of agriculture, infrastructure and gender equality. He welcomed progress in the Horn of Africa, including the revitalized agreement to resolve conflict in South Sudan. Sudan’s efforts led to the implementation of a regional initiative on the matter. Turning to the Central African Republic, he said negotiations are set to begin soon as part of an African Union peace and reconciliation initiative. The African Union is working to facilitate implementation of the 2030 Agenda, he said, noting that Africa requires billions of dollars in investment. This need must prompt the international community to step up efforts to leave nobody behind. Despite economic growth, Africa is facing multiple challenges that obstruct development efforts, he said, urging greater focus on financial integration and strengthening the role of the African Union in the maintenance of security. There must be “African solutions to African problems”, he said.
TOSHIYA HOSHINO (Japan) said that in 1993 his Government launched the Tokyo International Conference on African Development, which focuses on promoting inclusiveness and African ownership of the continent’s development. At its most recent meeting held earlier this month, stakeholders agreed that international support should comply with international standards, taking into account the sustainability of debt of recipient countries. In addition, participants agreed on the need for private investment to diversify Africa’s economic industries and develop high-quality infrastructure. He welcomed the opportunity to deepen discussions on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063 and to enhance the partnership between the United Nations and the African Union.
MARTHA AMA AKYAA POBEE (Ghana), associating herself with the African Group and the Group of 77, said the Agenda 2063 clearly expresses Africa’s development priorities and “holds the promise to enhance inclusive economic and social progress”. She noted that the African Union has concluded several major continental agreements over the past year, including the African Continental Free Trade Area and the protocol on the free movement of people. “Africa has demonstrated leadership in the development of the continent and is charting the continent’s path to prosperity,” she said. United Nations-African Union frameworks on development and on peace and security will make sustaining peace a prerequisite for sustainable development. Global economic conditions have a considerable bearing on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063 in Africa, she said, calling on partners to fulfil ODA commitments. She reaffirmed the role of the private sector and public-private partnerships in meeting the challenges of sustainable development. Peace and stability are notable components of sustainable development, she said, adding that the role of women cannot be underestimated.
MICHEL TOMMO MONTHE (Cameroon), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China and the African Group, urged the international community to step up efforts in several key areas, expressing support for the Secretary-General’s recommendation for sustainable progress in Africa. Sustainable and inclusive economic growth, based on trade and regional integration, and investment in human capital are essential. Having adopted its own strategic guidelines, Cameroon continues to create conditions to achieve the above-mentioned by focusing on entrepreneurship and empowering women and young people. It has established a bank for small- and medium-sized enterprises, he added, underscoring the important role of foreign direct investment. Cameroon’s healthcare system has also been bolstered. Over the last few years, Cameroon has committed itself to achieving food security, a goal which has been jeopardized by desertification and other effects of climate change. He also noted efforts to boost regional integration and expressed concern about the increasing burden of debt on the continent.
MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh), associating with the Group of 77 and China, said that being Chair of the Group of Least Developed Countries over the past three years has informed it of the interests of some African countries. Since Bangladesh has similar development challenges to those of African countries, sharing experiences and best practices is essential. As one of the leading troop and police contributing countries with extensive experience in peacekeeping particularly in Africa, Bangladesh will continue to contribute to improving the continent’s peace and security landscape. Despite geographical remoteness, Bangladesh is continuously expanding its diplomatic outreach in Africa. In Somalia, for example, it is working on innovation and public service initiatives. In Ethiopia, it is supporting information and communications technology to implement the 2030 Agenda.