Posted by: APO | 27 June 2008

African Union / Thirteenth Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the African Union / Statement by Mr. Abdoulie Janneh, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary of the ECA

African Union / Thirteenth Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the African Union / Statement by Mr. Abdoulie Janneh, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary of the ECA

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt June 27, 2008/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Statement by Mr. Abdoulie Janneh, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary of the ECA:

Mr. Chairman

Your Excellency, Mr. Jean Ping, Chairperson of the African Union Commission

Honourable Ministers

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

I am gratified to have this opportunity once again to address this august Executive Council which plays an important role in steering the political and social agenda of our dear continent.

Let me at the onset express sincere appreciation to President Hosni Mubarak and the Government and people of Egypt for the kind arrangements that have been made for this meeting and also for the warm hospitality that we have received since our arrival in this most beautiful of places, Sharm-el-Sheikh .

I also wish to take to take this opportunity to recognize the hard work and effort that has gone into ensuring the optimal arrangements of this meeting by the staff of the African Union Commission under the dynamic leadership of Mr. Jean Ping, whom we in the United Nations system know, trust and respect.

Honourable Ministers,

You are meeting at a time when Africa faces great challenges from the possible impact of current developments in the international economic scene. Indeed, the recent encouraging economic performance of Africa is being threatened by global economic emergencies in the food and energy markets and the prospect of stagflation in key industrial economies. These developments are closely linked with the negative effects of climate change and can undermine political stability and the scaling-up of efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

Since the causes and consequences of these problems are global, the key thing at a time like this is to use common solutions and the benefits of regional and international cooperation to guide and drive national actions. I might, of course, be preaching to the converted since this was the spirit that informed the first Joint Meeting of the African Union Ministers of Economy and Finance and the ECA Conference of Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development which took place in Addis Ababa in late March 2008. The theme of the meeting was ” Meeting Africa’s New Challenges in the 21 st Century” and on that occasion your colleagues from finances and planning deliberated upon and adopted policy prescriptions for responding to challenges such as the food crisis, high energy prices, and high external debt as well as in other areas demanding priority attention like growth, climate change, HIV/AIDS and governance.

In the critical area of food security for instance that Chairman Ping referred to, the recent high level conference convened by the FAO in Rome affirmed the position of the Finance Ministers that both emergency and long term responses are needed. The recurrent message was that it is essential to scale up investments and mobilize resources to implement the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Programme of NEPAD while the international community should move to reduce restrictive and trade distorting agricultural support policies. Similar attention must be paid to soaring oil prices part of which solution must lie in the solidarity between oil producing and importing African countries.

Strong and decisive policy measures are also needed to tackle climate change which is constraining agricultural production and exacerbating the food and energy crisis. There can no longer be any debate about the damaging effects of climate change and urgent action is needed to determine and implement the best policy options for adaptation, mitigation, technology transfer and for the financing of these requirements. ECA’s African Climate Policy Centre, which is now being operationalized, will work closely with the African Union Commission and the African Development Bank to support continental efforts in this regard and backstop regional participation at the Copenhagen Conference of Parties on climate change.

These issues are also pertinent to the theme of our current gathering which is ” Meeting the MDGs on Water and Sanitation” . In addition to its important role in power, transportation and irrigation, water is an essential requirement for sanitation and health in households and human settlements. Our development efforts must ultimately be about improving the human condition so concerted efforts are needed to provide the African people with safe access to water and decent sanitary conditions. Such access is also essential for improving maternal health which will free women to pursue job and educational opportunities.

The issue of water is also linked to peace and security because competition for scarce water resources sometimes fuels conflicts and leads to the forced displacement of people. Thus, while it may sound trite, it is worth repeating that Africa ‘s development agenda can only be achieved by a collective safeguarding of peace and security in every corner of the continent. It is therefore quite gratifying that the international community continues to work actively with Africa to ensure peace and security in the continent and the recent debate on this matter by the UN Security Council is a good example of such engagement. Also central to peace and security is the governance agenda which continues to be guided by our increasingly credible APRM process that will also enable us to deal with glaring departures from acceptable governance norms in a diminishing number of countries.

As I stated earlier, Africa must strengthen its voice at the international level so that global solutions accord with its national and regional priorities. This is why we continue to help in organizing regional reviews to prepare for global processes and negotiations. Of particular note in this regard is the review undertaken by the Ministers of Finance in preparation for the Doha Review Conference on Financing for Development taking place later this year and which is being guided in New York by the Ambassador of Egypt. Similarly, of interest are the recently concluded regional review of the Almaty Programme of Action aimed at facilitating trade for landlocked developing countries and the forthcoming post- Durban Conference on Racism which coincides with the 60 th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights .

On its part, the United Nations system remains committed to supporting and accompanying the efforts of African countries at national, sub-regional and regional levels. In this regard and, as you are aware, the Secretary-General is leading efforts to rally support for Africa and had established the MDG Africa Steering Group to boost international and domestic support for achieving the MDGs in Africa. This Group has completed its task and the results are now available and will assist deliberations at two High Level Meetings on Africa’s Development Needs and on the MDGs taking place in New York in September 2008.

In similar manner, Africa ‘s development efforts require continuous and informed advocacy and dialogue on key issues and challenges by a broad variety of stakeholders. In this regard, I am pleased to inform you that ” Securing Our Future “, the Report of the Commission set up by the Secretary-General on HIV/AIDS and Governance in Africa, prepared under the auspices of ECA and UNAIDS, was submitted to the UN Secretary-General earlier this month by its two co-Patrons, former President Kaunda of Zambia and former Prime Minister Pascual Mocumbi of Mozambique. The Report indicated that Africa has made progress in the fight against AIDS but that there is still need to do more especially with regard to ensuring long-term and sustained AIDS financing.

In conclusion, I wish to reiterate that while Africa ‘s development agenda is wide-ranging and complex, the best response is unity of purpose, policy coherence and effective use of limited resources to build more stable, integrated, competitive and diversified economies. This esteemed Council must accordingly mobilize Africa and its partners to ensure that our recent political and economic progress is kept on course despite growing concerns about the international economy. You can always count on the Economic Commission for Africa and the rest of the United Nations system to accompany your efforts in this regard.

I wish you fruitful deliberations. Thank you for your kind attention.

SOURCE : Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)



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