Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro today urged African nations to harness the continent’s “boundless potential” to put an end to brutal conflicts and make headway on the road to economic and social development.
“Without durable peace, there will be no sustained development, and without sustained development, Africa will not attain the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),” Ms. Migiro said, referring to the targets to reduce poverty, hunger, disease and illiteracy that world leaders have pledged to achieve by 2015.
In her keynote address to an international conference in Yaoundé, Cameroon, Ms. Migiro noted that Africa faces a number of challenges, including high rates of maternal and child mortality, lack of access to education, and the impact of climate change.
Africa also urgently needs an end to the brutal conflicts that have cost so many lives and destroyed so many hopes in recent decades, she added.
“These and many other challenges require urgent attention,” Ms. Migiro told the conference, which is focusing on Africa’s development and is being hosted by Cameroon to mark the 50th anniversary of its independence.
At the same time, she noted that Africa has “boundless potential,” amazing human and material wealth, including one billion people, more than half of whom are under the age of 25.
The good news, she said, is that much is already being done through the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), an agreed vision for economic and social development adopted by African leaders in 2001, as well as through the African Union’s peer review mechanism, through policy reforms and through mobilizing domestic resources.
“The bad news is that much remains to be done and time is not on our side,” stated the Deputy Secretary-General. “The needs of hundreds of millions of young, vibrant Africans cry out for immediate attention. This is the reality. This is the challenge.”
She drew attention to the high-level summit Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will be convening in September in New York to give renewed impetus and direction to efforts to attain the MDGs. “We have five years to build on those successes already achieved … five years to take what has been proven to work and roll it out to all who need it.
“Experience shows that when strong commitments are backed by the right policies, adequate investment and international support, countries can achieve remarkable progress – and sustain it,” she added.