To open the way for progress, African countries must adopt proactive policies, and their partners must help forge an enabling international environment, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today told a panel in Tokyo on investment and development.
Speaking at the fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD V), Mr. Ban urged better integration of Africa into the global economy to diversity the continent's economies and make them more resilient, during a panel chaired by World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, on 'private sector, trade and investment as engines of development'.
“Responsible foreign investment holds more potential for Africa than any other source of development capital, including official development assistance,” Mr. Ban said.
Africa's share in global foreign direct investment flows is around 3.5 per cent, he noted, while most of the continent's trade and investment are focus on a limited number of commodities exported to a limited number of destinations.
“It is important to complete the Doha Trade Round and ensure that African companies have access to major markets,” urged Mr. Ban noting the ongoing negotiations under the umbrella of the UN-supported World Trade Organization (WTO), and the critical need to address non-tariff barriers.
He also urged opportunities for trade beyond traditional markets, particularly among emerging economies, and a greater focus on intra-African trade among the African Union members.
“We also need to address the crippling lack of infrastructure. Energy, transportation and communications systems are essential to functioning business,” Mr. Ban said, highlighting the importance of investors and entrepreneurs in realizing the continent's “green growth.”
Mr. Ban said his Sustainable Energy for All initiative, which aims to achieve universal energy access, improve energy efficiency and increase the use of renewable energy, “can help spur progress.”
He also urged companies to observe the Principles for Responsible Agricultural Investment developed by the UN and the World Bank, and called on investors to support the growth of small-scale local business but to also respect human rights and property rights.
Earlier in the day, Mr. Ban participated in a thematic session at TICAD V on the development of a post-2015 development agenda to succeed the eight anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
With fewer than 1,000 days to reach the MDGs by their target date in December 2015, Mr. Ban urged the Government of Japan and other partners to increase support for the development goals.
“TICAD V should galvanize action to help the world live up to our pledge to end poverty, educate children, empower women and provide health services for all,” Mr. Ban told the participants who included heads of State and Government.
After nearly a year of work, Mr. Ban received a report this week by the High-Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, outlining a new development framework to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030 and deliver on the promise of sustainable development.
In the report, the 27-member Panel called for the new post-2015 goals to drive five major transformational shifts: move from “reducing” to ending extreme poverty, leaving no one behind; putting sustainable development at the core of the development agenda; transforming economies to drive inclusive growth; building accountable institutions, open to all, that will ensure good governance and peaceful societies; and forging a new global partnership based on cooperation, equity and human rights.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, in attendance at TICAD V, co-chaired that panel, along with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia and Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom. She has been selected to also chair the Committee of Heads of State and Government on the Post-2015 Development Agenda.
To ensure that the report reflects the concerns of people across the world, the panel took into account national consultations held in more than 90 countries, including three dozen in Africa, Mr. Ban said. In addition, a quarter million of Africans also shared their ideas online through the global survey My World.
Also at the Tokyo Conference, the head of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) today moderated a panel to identify priority actions for closing gender equality gaps in Africa and ensuring that gender equality is central to the post-2015 development agenda. The panel focused on best practices in addressing such challenges as maternal health, food security, sexual violence and barriers to women's economic, legal and political empowerment, as well as to their participation in peace building.
It also noted the importance of women in agriculture where they are estimated to account for nearly 50 percent of the agricultural labor force in sub-Saharan Africa.
“One of the most important steps countries can take to drive progress is to ensure and improve the political, economic and social rights and opportunities of women,” UNDP Administrator Helen Clark said.
“Africa has achieved notable economic growth in recent years. To be sustained, that growth must be inclusive, and translate into concrete improvements in the lives of women, men and children,” Miss Clark added.
Meanwhile, at an event on malaria, Mr. Ban called for additional funding for the Roll Back Malaria Partnership and the UN-backed Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
In April, the Global Fund announced a target of raising $15 billion for the 2014-2016 period. The current funding shortfall is starting to slow the scale-up of key malaria interventions in Africa, particularly the distribution of long-lasting insecticide treated mosquito nets.
“Now we are at a critical moment. Financial gaps threaten the progress. This is the time to make the most of our investments,” he urged.
Malaria mortality has declined from over one million annually to half of that number in under a decade, due to the delivery of over 400 million Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets (LLINs), expansion of indoor-spraying and hundreds of millions of courses of treatment and diagnostic testing. In the first quarter of this year, 37 million nets were delivered to sub-Saharan Africa, according to the Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Financing the Health MDGs and for Malaria, Ray Chambers.
Participants at TICAD V also discussed peace and stability in Africa. In his remarks, Mr. Ban noted that there are fewer conflicts in Africa than in the past, “but new threats are emerging” including the rise of transnational crime, piracy, terrorism and radicalization.
“Peace and development are mutually reinforcing,” Mr. Ban said, noting that he returned last week from the Great Lakes region where he, envoy Mary Robinson, and the President of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, went to support the Peace, Security and Cooperation framework for the Democractic Republic of the Congo and the region.
He noted that “nowhere is the nexus between government, security and development more clear than in the Sahel.”
The Sahel region – which stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea – suffers from extreme poverty with more than one million children in acute malnutrition. The region's human development levels are among the lowest in the world. It also has porous borders that present security challenges, as well as significant human rights problems.
“We are doing everything possible to save lives now and to address future needs,” Mr. Ban said. “The goal is to build resilience – a key theme of this conference.”
In northern Mali, Mr. Ban noted that fighting has affected five million people and forced more than 400,000 to flee their homes.
Northern Mali was occupied by radical Islamists after fighting broke out in January 2012 between Government forces and Tuareg rebels. The conflict prompted the Malian Government to request assistance from France to stop the military advance of extremist groups.
Last month the Security Council approved a 12,600-strong UN peacekeeping operation to take over from the African-led mission in Mali on 1 July. The UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) is tasked with supporting the political process in the country, in close coordination with the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
The Mission will help the Malian authorities to implement the transitional roadmap towards the full restoration of constitutional order, democratic governance and national unity. This includes the holding of elections in July, confidence-building and facilitation of reconciliation at the national and local levels.
In the Central African Republic, Mr. Ban said he was “deeply concerned about violence and human rights abuses.” He has called on the Security Council and the international community to help restore security and protect civilians, and stressed the importance of regional approaches to stop the spread of insecurity.
Fighting flared up in CAR in December 2012 when the Séléka rebel coalition launched a series of attacks. The fighters took control of major towns and were advancing on the capital, Bangui – home to 1.5 million out of the country's population of 4.5 million, before agreeing to start peace talks under the auspices of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).
A peace agreement was reached on 11 January in Libreville, Gabon, resulting in a ceasefire agreement and creating a Government of national unity in which opposition figures were given key posts, but the rebels again seized Bangui in March forcing President François Bozizé to flee.
The conference in Tokyo is taking place as the UN is ready to deploy its latest UN assistance mission in Somalia (UNSOM) on 3 June.
“Progress in Somalia shows what African partners and the international community can accomplish together,” Mr. Ban said. “I hope partners will continue supporting Somalia as it works to consolidate progress and build a federal state.”
On the sidelines of the conference, Mr. Ban met today with Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. They discussed latest political and security developments in the country, as well as the forthcoming deployment of UNSOM.
Also today, Mr. Ban met with Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan, to express his appreciation for Japan's active role in the UN, as well as for hosting the conference and for the country's multifaceted contributions to the promotion of development in Africa.
Mr. Ban stressed the need for the country's strong leadership regarding the Organization's reform, as well as on human security, the MDGs and the post-2015 development agenda. The two leaders also discussed the situation in Syria and the Korean Peninsula, among other issues.
The UN chief also met today with President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete of Tanzania to discuss the human rights situation regarding albinos in the country, often attacked for superstitious beliefs. The two leaders also exchanged views on the situation in Madagascar and climate change.
Mr. Ban and Salva Kiir Mayardit, President of the Republic of South Sudan, met to discuss implementation of the 27 September 2012 agreements signed with Sudan and the negotiations on the outstanding issues between the two countries.
Mr. Ban also stressed the increasing concern of the international community with regard to the deteriorating humanitarian situation in South Sudan, and called on the Government of South Sudan to do more to protect civilians in Jonglei State, in particular, the site of recent intense attacks.
With Prime Minister of Mauritius, Navinchandra Ramgoolam, Mr. Ban discussed the post-2015 development agenda, as well as the challenges faced by Small Island Developing States (SIDS), including Mauritius, that are posed by climate change. Also, Mr. Ban commended Mauritius for its contribution to international efforts to combat piracy. The latest developments in Madagascar were also on their agenda.
In addition, Mr. Ban met today with Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama, President of the Republic of Botswana to discussed the importance of cooperation between the UN and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
Mr. Ban welcomed Botswana's continued leadership on climate change, voicing hope that an agreement on climate change will be reached by 2015. He also commended Botswana's initiatives to achieve the MDGs and to address resource scarcity and food insecurity.