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On Africa Day, Ban urges leveraging gains to ensure ‘no African is left behind’

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
UN Photo/Evan Schneider (file)
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

On Africa Day, Ban urges leveraging gains to ensure ‘no African is left behind’

Economic Development

Despite an uncertain global economic landscape, Africa’s prospects are positive, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today, urging the continent’s leaders to use recent gains to address rising social and economic inequalities.

In his message to mark Africa Day, which commemorates the founding in 1963 of the Organization of African Unity, now known as the African Union (AU), Mr. Ban noted that this year’s Day is being celebrated in furtherance of the AU’s theme for the year: “Human Rights with a Particular Focus on the Rights of Women.”

“This demonstrates the commitment of Africa’s leaders to place women – as key drivers and enablers – at the front and centre of all efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the African Union’s Agenda 2063,” the UN chief said.

The Secretary-General highlighted that both frameworks share similar strategic principles, with a focus on people, prosperity, environmental sustainability, justice, human rights and mutually accountable partnerships.

“The alignment between the global and the continental agendas calls for a harmonized approach in planning, implementation and monitoring,” he said.

Under Agenda 2063, Africa’s priorities include investing in its people, with an emphasis on women and youth; developing manufacturing and agro-processing; building transport, water, sanitation, energy and ICT infrastructure; domestic resource mobilization and stemming illicit financial flows; ending conflict; promoting human rights; and expanding democratic governance. Africa also has the opportunity to pursue industrialization in a more environmentally sustainable manner, including through climate-smart agriculture, renewable energy and arresting deforestation, the UN chief emphasized.

“I encourage African nations and their partners to spare no effort in advancing these priorities. The United Nations is committed in its support,” the Secretary-General said.

Mr. Ban noted that growth in Africa is projected to increase to 4.4 per cent in 2016, from 3.7 percent in 2015.

“I urge Africa’s leaders to use these gains to address rising social and economic inequalities, and ensure that no African is left behind. This is crucial for tackling root causes of conflicts, terrorism and violent extremism, and fostering peace and stability,” the Secretary-General said.

“I also commend Africa’s bold initiative on ‘Silencing the Guns by 2020,’ which is one of the flagship projects of Agenda 2063’s First 10-Year Implementation Plan,” he added.

The Secretary-General emphasized that the successful implementation of these new agendas will require a renewed partnership for development cooperation among African governments, UN entities, the AU Commission, the NEPAD Agency, the Regional Economic Communities and development partners.

“The private sector also has a key role to play in creating jobs, promoting innovation in technologies and services, and supporting the massive infrastructure transition needed to fulfil Africa’s sustainable development objectives,” Mr. Ban said.

“On this Africa Day, I urge all stakeholders to rally behind the transformative vision set out in the Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2063. What is good for Africa is good for the world,” he concluded.