From now to 2063: four major transitions African governments should pay attention to

A new report defining the way forward for a real transformation of Africa has just been published. “Africa’s path to 2063: choice in the face of great transformations”, developed by the Frederick S. Pardee Center, is distinguished by its long-term deadline and methodology using an analysis system encrypted using the “International Futures” tool (IF). We were particularly proud to work with outstanding international researchers to have a better understanding of the trends of our development and the way forward to achieve the goals of Agenda 2063, the strategic framework for the socio-economic transformation of the continent over the next 50 years.

This report is based on a quantitative forecasting software that is macro-integrated and reveals the key transitions that Africa will face towards 2063. There are four main transition topics: the demographic transition, the transformation of human development and inequality, technological transformation and environmental transformation.

The document focuses on these foreseeable transitions that should be discussed, planned and operated to increase development opportunities and in order to address the current and future challenges of Africa. For instance, according to the study, the African population will grow from 1.3 billion to 3 billion by 2063. The rapid pace of urban growth contrasts with the slow pace of structural transformation that accompanies it. A controlled urbanization will bring economic, social and human development.

In addition, the economic growth in a majority of African countries has reduced the gap in per capita income compared to developed countries but it has been found that, by 2063, inequality will widen further between the rich and poor inside countries. This is an urgent call to quickly create redistribution mechanisms organized by states.

The report concludes that technological development will positively impact economic growth in Africa. Although lower than in other regions, progress has been recorded on the continent including telecommunications which constitute a high potential market. Rwanda has significantly improved its agricultural yields of 5.6 tons per hectare in 2007 to 9.6 in 2013. The technology can be linked with effective public policies.

One of the major concerns is that our continent seems to be one of the most vulnerable to climate change. This should encourage African states to adopt climate-smart agriculture and take measures to promote green technology. The evolution of forms of governance will go some way to face these transformations and the multiple challenges they entail. Countries need more than ever to adapt their model for more flexibility and civil society participation.

To this end, the report highlights four major transitions as a framework for African governments. This requires an understanding of the ongoing changes and policy choices that can be made to promote Africa’s long-awaited development. African states, associated with regional and continental organizations have the means, but also the duty, to heed these transitions and include them in their strategic planning.

The presidency of the World Bank must be entrusted to an African

While the announcement of the resignation of American Jim Yong Kim from the World Bank presidency on Monday, January 7, took everyone by surprise, the resulting debate remained unsurprising. Very quickly, rumours began to circulate about his potential successor, with the usual share of hypotheses, sometimes serious, often extravagant. However, these hypotheses all had one thing in common: the American nationality of the candidates. Indeed, it is a well-known unwritten rule that the President of the World Bank must be an American. A tradition that reflected the world of the 20th century but is a distorting mirror of the realities of the 21st century.

When the World Bank was founded in 1944, the West dominated economic globalization, with the United States as architects of the new world order. In 1991, the fall of the USSR seemed to confirm the irrevocable victory of political and economic liberalism, enshrining the American hyperpower. At the dawn of the 21st century, Western donors and the Bretton Woods institutions were still dictating the way forward for the development of countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Some observers have gone so far as to speak of the “end of history”…

How many certainties have been turned upside down in just under two decades! Asia has emerged as a new centre of the world economy, with China as the engine of growth. Beijing has also set itself up as an alternative to a breathless American order, where a certain “complicity diplomacy” – to use the words of French researcher Bertrand Badie – continued to keep the countries of the South out of the world’s management board. For its part, Africa is now the reservoir of global growth and the demographic giant of tomorrow. At the same time, the scourge of populism has proliferated in many countries around the world. With peoples blaming globalization for all evils, international institutions based on international cooperation and multilateralism are now exposed to many criticisms.

This geopolitical restructuring was logically accompanied by a crisis of legitimacy of the World Bank. Once an essential development institution, it is now experiencing a relative decline due to a combination of factors. First, access to financial markets has increased significantly in recent years for developing countries, offering them greater diversity in their sources of financing. During the same period, an increasing rejection of the Washington consensus took hold among elites and populations in developing countries, but also in developed countries, putting pressure on institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which had never been so contested before.

In addition, and for the first time, the Americans have elected a president who openly criticizes multilateral institutions, advocating economic nationalism that is out of step with the pace of current globalization. In this context, under what pretext can we still accept that the President of the World Bank must necessarily be an American? Far be it from me to believe that no American has the right profile for the position, but I plead for an open competition where applications from all nationalities must be taken into account. What credibility can an international institution promoting good governance and transparency have with an opaque and unfair recruitment procedure? The World Bank must change the way its President is recruited if it is to maintain its appeal and credibility.

Because beyond the technical dimension of the post, the role of the President of the World Bank – who has the status of a quasi-Head of State – is eminently political. That is why I believe it is time for the World Bank to be led by someone from the African continent. Of all the World Bank’s fields of action, Africa is the one where the stakes are the highest: investment in infrastructure, poverty reduction, agricultural transformation, access to energy, rapid urbanization, human capital development… Not to mention the main challenge of this century, climate change, which is already affecting many African countries.

Investing in these countries and driving bold reforms requires a relationship of trust, which must now be rebuilt to break the image of arrogance that World Bank teams have sometimes sent back to their interlocutors. An African will be in a better position to encourage governments of developing countries to fight corruption or better manage their public debts without being accused of imperialism or neo-colonialism.

Choosing a candidate from a Southern country in a historically Northern institution also sends a strong message for a more balanced globalization, where each country can have a voice that counts on world affairs. Appointing an African to head the World Bank means recognizing the emergence of new powers in globalization and the need to address new missions such as safeguarding global public goods and conserving biodiversity. To fully enter the 21st century, the World Bank actually has no choice but to put an end to 75 years of “America First” and finally inaugurate the era of “World First”!

 

A food “leapfrog” is possible in Africa

By 2050, the world will have to feed 10 billion people, taking into account the impact of food production on the climate. In other words, it will be a matter of producing enough for all without depleting water, land and forests. A challenge? Not necessarily…

This is what is said by 37 experts from 16 countries who have addressed this very concrete question: what healthy diets can be derived from sustainable agriculture? Their responses, with numerical targets around the world, represent a first. They can be found in the report on food, the planet and health of the commission formed by the NGO EAT Forum and the British medical journal The Lancet.

A healthy diet for humans and sustainable for the planet, according to the report, includes half of fruit and vegetables, followed by cereals and pulses (lentils, beans, nuts, pistachios, etc.) and between 0 and 186 grams of meat per day. The document has already been released in Australia, the United States and Indonesia, where it has been widely reported. It is now being launched in Africa, on the sidelines of the 32nd African Union Summit, in partnership with the NEPAD Agency.

The challenges remain daunting, depending on the context of each region of the world. In Africa, the picture is mixed. As many as 59 million children suffer from chronic malnutrition, while 9 million are overweight. The Sahel, the Great Lakes and Madagascar remain the most food insecure regions. At the same time, diseases from rich countries are spreading as a result of urbanization, the rise of the middle classes and changes in eating habits. Obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer are on the rise.

Good news, however, is that Africa is one of the few regions in the world, according to the EAT Lancet report, where vegetable consumption is higher than the recommended level and animal protein consumption is lower than the maximum desirable. From Egypt to South Africa and Rwanda, cereals and vegetable proteins from beans, peas, beans and other dried vegetables are already used in daily dishes.

No one is fully aware of this yet, but on the food level, “leapfrogging” is possible on the continent. This jump has already been observed in telecommunications. The expansion of mobile telephony has taken place without the stage of the generalization of fixed lines, as in industrialized countries. By adapting its consumption and agriculture to the climate now, the continent could skip another important step: that of industrial agri-food in the countries of the North, with its harmful effects on health and the environment.

It will be possible, concludes the EAT Lancet report, to feed the planet without damaging the climate under several conditions. The consumption of vegetable protein must increase everywhere, to see the share of animal protein decrease. It will also be necessary to reduce by half the volumes of food thrown away every day in the world, as well as the harvests lost – a crucial problem in Africa. The recipe is now in our hands. It is up to each of us to set an example.

Let’s give young people a voice to achieve the Africa we want

The Africa of tomorrow will be made up of the dreams of today’s children. What do they want? What sources of inspiration could public policies draw from their ideas? The essay contest on “The Africa We Want”, launched this year by the NEPAD agency, aims precisely to tap into this source of creative energy. Young Africans have until 28 February to write their ideas and formulate their proposals, which should make it possible to have a positive impact on societies, in line with the imperative for transformation set out in the African Union’s Agenda 2063. The winners will be announced at a ceremony in April in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The rise of African youth, as we know, provides grounds for concern in both the North and the South. The number of 15-24 year olds will increase from 327 to 531 million between 2010 and 2065, according to the UN projections. This figure alone represents both a promise and challenges. Europe fears major waves of migration from the continent. For their part, African leaders are well aware that the vast majority of young people simply dream of a decent life at home. Their massive entry into the labour market therefore makes development and access to employment more urgent than ever. If Africa wants to benefit from its demographic dividend, consulting its youth is an essential first step.

Already, the 15-25 age group is becoming increasingly vocal, and not only in the citizens’ movements that are spreading across the continent. A few examples, chosen from thousands of others, attest to this. Activist Chris Chukwu is fighting corruption in Nigeria as part of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) network. Aminata Namasia Bazego, 25, has just entered the Parliament of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where she is the youngest member of parliament. Arthur Zang, a Cameroonian engineer, invented the Cardiopad in 2014, at the age of 24. This touch pad for medical use has been talked about all over the world. It allows cardiologists, too few in Cameroon, to follow their patients from a distance.

Ancillar Mangena, a Zimbabwean journalist, has already won many awards even though she is less than thirty. For Forbes Africa magazine, she identified the most dynamic Africans under 30 years of age in the business, technology and arts sectors. The result of her survey is a list of 90 role models, success stories that the journalist describes as the “billionaires of tomorrow”. It is to initiate and sustain such virtuous cycles that we must immediately transform attitudes about our youth. Because young people are still too often considered as “little ones” without a voice. The time has come to listen to them. Because the current, rapid changes are already dependent on their generation.

Infrastructure: the way forward

Considering its role as the Development agency of the African Union, the NEPAD welcomes the Compact with Africa put forward by the G20. First because it acknowledges that the aid model is not the solution to meet our continent’s development challenges. This is not a question of saying whether aid is good or bad. Aid is simply not enough. Just one figure to substantiate this: we believe that Africa needs between US$130bn and US$170bn to develop its infrastructure each year. But the total aid it receives each year does not amount to much more than US$60bn. In this sense, the Compact is in line with Africa’s objective to attract more private investment.

There is one other essential dimension in the Compact with Africa, which is to consider projects on a regional scale. The NEPAD has long been advocating that optimal solutions are found at the regional level and not at the national one. We must think in terms of cross- border corridors, be it in energy or communication corridors. The regional dimension is vital and must get greater attention. Infrastructure covering several countries in the same region is also more attractive to investors (both public and private) because it allows the pooling of costs and promotes integration.

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Interview with African Business

Launched amid much fanfare by President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa and other continental luminaries in 2001, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) promised a fresh era of progress through a dynamic agency freed from the constraints of Africa’s tired leadership structures. With lofty goals to “eradicate poverty, promote sustainable growth and development, integrate Africa in the world economy, and accelerate the empowerment of women,” the agency capitalised on the excitement of an international community transfixed by the UN’s Millennium Development Goals. “We are essentially saying that surely the time has come that as the African continent we should say [there must be] an end to the underdevelopment of the continent, an end to the poverty and there must be an end to conflict,” Mbeki boldly proclaimed in 2002.

Today, NEPAD’s Planning and Coordination Agency – soon to become the African Union Development Agency – is attempting to carve out a new role for itself in a very different landscape. With Mbeki and other high-profile backers retired from the scene, chief executive Ibrahim Mayaki, a former prime minister of Niger, faces a battle to prove NEPAD’s relevance on a continent where multi-billion dollar infrastructure schemes and the private sector are seen as the crucial drivers of development. 

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PROMOTING AFRICAN REGIONALISM THROUGH THE DEVELOPMENT OF TRANSPORT

Every year, Africa is slowly but surely moving towards greater political and economic integration. A number of projects are underway, such as the establishment of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) and the Single African Air Transport Market. It must be stated that today the potential for intra-African trade remains under-exploited, accounting for only 12% of Africa’s total trade. And one of the first causes of the weakness of its intercontinental trade remains higher transport costs than those in other regions.

In a recent research note entitled “Regionalism in Africa: Soft and Hard Transport Costs”, the French Development Agency (AFD) rightly illustrates the existence of a a causal link between the level of transport costs and the weaknesses of regionalism in Africa. In terms of tariffs, researchers believe that while African countries have effectively lowered tariffs on the products of their trading partners, the average level remains higher than in the rest of the world. But many other obstacles contribute to these trade costs, such as excessive regulation and delays at the borders and in ports that are harmful to businesses.

This note focuses mainly on the analysis of trade facilitation measures (soft) and logistic performance indices (hard), two distinct dimensions of transport costs. In the Doing Business report of the World Bank, the point of view of companies is presented via their perception of the regulation and the institutional capacities, for example, that constitute the soft indices. Conversely, the Logistic Performance Index (LPI) is based on six aspects that are much more quantitative and concrete (hard), such as the ability to track transport or the frequency with which shipments arrive on time at their correct destination. Combining these different data from the World Bank, the conclusion is the same with regard to both aspects: Africa is at the bottom of the pack, even when compared to other emerging regions.

It is therefore urgent to act on opening up African countries to one another by means of a large number of measures. Our continent has everything to gain from goods “circulating better in a more integrated space” and “value chains” that can “be set up at the African level before joining international circuits”. The importance of the transport sector and logistics performance is therefore critical for enabling Africa to increase the size of its markets and to achieve economies of scale.

At the same time, regional integration needs to take shape at the institutional and regulatory level, in order to decongest our borders and ports by harmonising our customs policies. If it succeeds in closing this gap, our continent will be able to generate a surplus of integration and therefore of economic growth, the gains of which will benefit our populations and improve their living conditions. We the African countries only have to take together the path of regional integration by breaking down the barriers that hinder our commercial relations.

Infrastructure: We must find alternatives to state funding

On October 16 2018, the authorities of the Democratic Republic of Congo announced the signing of an Inga 3 project exclusive development agreement with two consortia (Chinese and Spanish). This is a milestone for Africa. After eight years of studies and discussions, this hydroelectric dam project on the Congo River will finally enter its operational phase.

Inga 3 is a project designed to lead to an extra production of 11,000 megawatts (MW) of clean renewable, permanently available energy that will benefit the entire power grid in the region. The benefits of this project will be felt as far as in South Africa. The China Inga 3, a consortium including Chinese and European companies, plans to invest $14 billion. If all goes well, Inga 3 will be the largest hydroelectric project ever built on the continent. It will also showcase opportunities offered by public partnerships for infrastructure development in Africa, as well as regional integration.

Infrastructure deficit is one of the most serious problems our continent faces. It is most obvious in the  energy sector – although 145 million people on the African continent have been able to connect to electricity since the beginning of the millennium, 645 million Africans are still deprived of it. How can we expect to start a virtuous circle of industrialization if the most basic prerequisite – access to affordable energy – is not fulfilled?

We estimate that the annual investment threshold for Africa’s infrastructure deficit is $120 billion. As of now, annual investment stands at about fifty billion only. The continent now devotes a little more than 4% of its GDP to infrastructure equipment. This is better than ten years ago when it dropped to 2%. But it is still less than in China, where this proportion is up to 14%. There are also major differences between countries and the structure of their economies, depending on their exposure to commodity prices in particular.

This lack of infrastructure carries big costs. When economies are isolated, they become less attractive, since unified markets on a regional scale are difficult to create. Inadequate infrastructure increases production costs, weighs on business’s competitiveness and negatively impacts foreign direct investment. Still, Africa must create 450 million jobs over the next twenty years to absorb its population growth. World Bank studies have shown that infrastructure deficit costs the continent two points of annual growth and generates a 40% shortfall in competitiveness gains for its enterprises.

Having stated the fact, we need to think about solutions. Be it in energy or communication corridors, the regional dimension is essential and must receive the greatest attention. Infrastructure covering several countries in the same region is more attractive to investors (both public and private) because it allows the pooling of costs and promotes integration. In 2012, the African Union set up an African Infrastructure Development Program (PIDA) managed jointly by the NEPAD Agency and the African Development Bank (AfDB). Its roadmap focuses on structuring cross-border projects, numbering 51, for a total package of $360 billion. They are the pivot of the continent’s real economic takeoff.

The approach chosen by PIDA is highly original in that it anchors the projects exclusively on Public Private Partnerships (PPP). Indeed, the real question is not whether to invest more, but rather, who should invest more? Again we say, ‘Africa must first rely on its own means and resources to carry out its development.’ But is this true in the infrastructure domain? The answer is ‘yes,’ but with some reservations. Investment in infrastructure is an absolute necessity, but it must not be to the detriment of other equally important programs such as investment in education, health or agriculture. Therefore, association with the private sector on the one hand, and international cooperation on the other hand, are credible alternatives to state funding. This is the solution that, as the NEPAD Agency, we never stop recommending, and this is the solution DRC authorities have chosen to adopt with the Inga 3 project.

Therefore, the key issue lies in private sector participation in the major PIDA projects, in the promotion of requisite regional integration. In this regard, the NEPAD Agency launched the “5% Agenda” in 2017. This campaign aims to raise awareness and mobilize the African financial sector and encourage African insurance companies and pension funds to invest at least 5% of their investment portfolio to infrastructure. Currently the allocation is only 1.5%. The growth margins are considerable because the amount of assets under management held by African pension funds, insurance companies, and institutional investors stands at $1.1 trillion. In addition to its exemplary nature, the “5% Agenda” realization will act as a positive signal; not only will it reduce the perception of risk on the continent, it will also leverage the private sector and international partners participation in the financing of major African infrastructure. These are more than likely to spur regional integration.

My speech on behalf of the AUC Chairperson to mark the beginning of African Dialogue Series 2018, New York

Ladies, and gentlemen

It is a privilege to address you today on behalf of His Excellency Mr. Moussa Faki Mahamat, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission.

This is indeed an opportune time to take stock and chart the way forward to enhancing strategic partnerships in a context where multilateralism is being attacked, and questions are being raised on our collective capacity to achieve the shared goals of peace, prosperity, sustainable development and human rights for all.

How can the partnership between the United Nations and the African Union, and our strategic partners, as part of the global partnerships context for development, contribute to fast-tracking the implementation of Agendas 2030 and 2063?

The African Union and the United Nations are currently working closely together on reducing risks and vulnerability due not only to political conflicts, and preventing crises caused for instance by violent extremism, economic shocks, intolerance, environmental risks and conflicts, social tensions, droughts and famines. One of the problems is the tension between the need for a long term strategic vision and the reality of short term mandating visions and budget cycles.

Within a context where multilateral frameworks seem to be under attack, this partnership led by the United Nations and the African Union creates a space for institutional innovations that can help build a more Peace and Development for a better world to live in.

The Joint UN-AU Framework for an Enhanced Partnership in Peace and Security, co- signed by the UN Secretary-General and the Chairperson of the AU Commission in April 2017, lay the basis for further improvements in the cooperation and coordination between the UN and the AU.

There is room for additional synergies between the UN’s Agenda 2030 and the AU’s Agenda 2063, and the “Silencing the Guns” flagship project of Agenda 2063.

These agendas and initiatives provide a set of shared principles and objectives that can be used to promote information sharing and coordination, so that through burden sharing and division of work, on the basis of comparative advantage and predictable joint engagement, the UN and AU are both able to improve efficiencies and overall effectiveness.

The implementation of the AU’s financial and organizational reforms, that will strengthen its financial independence and organizational effectiveness, will be an important element in further enhancing the UN-AU strategic partnership. Greater predictability is a key element for this partnership, especially when it comes to joint programming, which involves human and financial resources.

In a globalized world with increased uncertainty, what lessons can the AU-UN partnership offer regarding the need to work collaboratively to solve global problems?

Implementing this AU-UN strategic partnership will be dependent on the following critical conditions:

1. There needs to be enhancements and clarity of the UN-AU- RECs, and Regional mechanisms cooperation. The principle of subsidiarity, as it relates to the UN-AU- RECs and Regional Mechanisms, and in the context of the emerging global peace and security architecture, needs to be defined and structured.

2. National / Local Ownership. It is important there is full endorsement and alignment of all international efforts with the principle of national and local ownership. However, this principle does not negate the fact that the AU, UN and sub-regional, bodies must take into account that not all national and local leaders are committed to sustainable peace. Some are pre-occupied with staying in power, regardless of the negative impact on their countries, people or the economy. Others need help to manage corruption and nepotism, or support to combat terrorism, or assistance to resist state-capture by transnational criminal organizations.

3. The UN and the AU should support transformative processes that not only empower national and local ownership, but also enhance social cohesion and promote the inclusion of all parts of a society, by enabling equity and social harmony. This will require the development of leadership values and skills, both within the UN and AU to support such processes, without becoming prescriptive or otherwise undermining national ownership, as well as the development of a future generation of leaders that put their communities, societies and nations above their own personal interests.

4. There is now growing recognition that the type and pace of institution-building and democratization matters: linear assumptions that more development leads to greater stability, or that good governance defeats insurgencies have been debunked. The standard models of the previous era have been based on sequenced approaches to stability, peace and development. Whilst in most situations the AU and UN are facing today (for instance in the case of the Sahel, or AMISOM in Somalia) there is need to support governance, security sector reform and development initiatives amidst ongoing conflicts.

5. The combination of challenges facing the UN, AU, sub regional organizations, states and communities in Africa require a comprehensive approach. A whole systems approach is needed to align the various dimensions (peace-security, Governance and development) behind a shared political and strategic vision.

6. We must recognize that there is a significant body of knowledge on peacekeeping, but both the UN and AU are increasingly tasked to undertake stabilization operations. There should be an emphasis on learning lessons and identifying best practices in the past, but now this approach is questioned, because of the pace of change, which makes such lessons and practices obsolete, and because it is now recognized that each situation requires its own context-specific response that should be arrived at together with the society in transition.

7. Gradually, we should aim at rationalization and creating greater Coherence on Global partnership commitments regarding Africa’s development: for example, FOCAC, TICAD, EU, USA partnerships, thinking coherently. The foundation for NEPAD in 2000 was motivated by fostering three levels of ownership (local, national, international) that helped feed the design for Agenda 2063. Its implementation illustrates how critical it is to build global coherence by taking advantage of synergetic approaches, and financial, human and institutional resources to reach the stage planning development and sustaining peace for Africa.

In conclusion, excellences, ladies and gentlemen:

1. we should not forget to integrate the role of an emerging private sector in job creation and peace stabilization;  and last but not the least,

2.  integrate gender and youth perspectives into early warning, prevention, mediation, peace operations, and peace building.

These aspects are often poorly connected with the peace, security, governance and even development aspects of planning, and much more needs to be done to integrate these economic and social dimensions into an integrated and coordinated systems approach to achieve the sustainable development goals and realize the AFRICA we want.

I thank you

Infrastructure, agriculture, tuberculosis: a week in New York focused on action

I would like to share with you some impressions from New York, where I went to represent the NEPAD Agency at the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly. This week was rich in events and exchanges. My meeting with Rodger Voorhies, Executive Director of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, provided an opportunity to discuss the programme for accelerating agricultural growth in Africa, led by the NEPAD Agency, and to reflect on partnership opportunities around the AATS project (Africa Agriculture Transformation Scorecard – the “evaluation sheets for agricultural transformation in Africa”). The meeting with Dr Andrew Steer, President of the World Resource Institute, which is collaborating with the NEPAD Agency on the AFR100 programme to restore 111 million hectares of arable land in Africa by 2030, provided an opportunity to review the progress of this strategic partnership. Finally, the deepening of the dialogue between the NEPAD Agency and the UNDP Regional Bureau in Africa was at the heart of my warm exchanges with the institution’s new Executive Director, Ahunna Eziakonwa.

Our continent, Africa, received a special tribute in New York. This 73rd session of the General Assembly was dedicated to the memory of our most inspiring leader, Nelson Mandela, whose centenary we were celebrating. After the African Union, which honoured “Madiba” at the Nouakchott summit on 1 and 2 July, it was therefore the United Nations’ turn to invoke the legacy of the father of the South African nation: the General Assembly proclaimed the decade 2019-2028 as the Nelson Mandela Decade for Peace. Mandela has become a universal symbol, transcending borders, continents and times. This is obviously a source of pride for all Africans.

We can and must set an example: against a pessimistic discourse that tends to present our continent as one of crises, how can we not point out that one of the best recent news for peace has come from Africa: the reconciliation between Ethiopia and Eritrea, which have decided to overcome their territorial disputes to put an end to a 20-year-old conflict. This news opens up prospects for the relaunch of regional integration, which has been boosted by the creation of the ZLEC, the Continental Free Trade Area. The ZLEC will be a long process, but it is already emerging as a tangible manifestation of the pan-African ideal. The President of Rwanda and current Chairman of the African Union, Paul Kagame, rightly recalled this in his speech to the UN tribune….

But African integration will require infrastructure and, in this regard, a crucial meeting on their financing was organized at the initiative of NEPAD on 25 September in New York’s Nasdaq. Our agency coordinates the participation of the private sector in the major structuring projects of PIDA (Program for Infrastructure Development in Africa). This meeting made it possible to raise awareness and mobilize the African and international financial sectors. We encourage African pension funds to spend at least 5% of their investment portfolio (which amounts to $1.1 trillion) on infrastructure, including through PPPs. We must be exemplary if we want to be supported by our international partners!

The NEPAD Agency is also fully engaged in the fight against tuberculosis, which killed 2.6 million Africans in 2016. The high-level meeting “United to Stop Tuberculosis: A Continental Response”, which we organized on 25 September, enabled African governments, their partners and major donors to renew their commitment to combat this scourge through multilateral cooperation. We are convinced that only a continental and multidimensional response, closely involving all actors, public and private, and populations, is relevant to finding a solution to this tragedy.

But it is also necessary to be able to respond to emergencies and health crises that transcend borders. This was the subject of the second humanitarian dialogue organized under the aegis of the NEPAD Agency on 28 September in New York, as part of its Move Africa initiative, which aims to establish corridors to accelerate and facilitate the work of humanitarian organizations.

All these initiatives reflect the will of the African Union and the NEPAD Agency to take the most concrete action possible to create the foundations for a better future for our continent. We will come back to this later.