Manifesto for 2017

Dear friends, I was keen to send you, today itself, my very best wishes for 2017. May this year be rich, full of promise and may all your projects be met with success.

This is a pivotal year for our continent, indeed, it will be marked by a change of leadership at the head of the African Union. Heads of African States and Governments will have the task of choosing a new President for the African Union commission during the 28th Summit at Addis Ababa in January. This summit follows on from Kigali where we count a number of success stories, especially the launch of the African passport, decisions taken on the financing of the African Union as well as the free-exchange continental zone. President Kagame has been designated on this occasion to lead reform at the African Union, reform that is indispensable if the African Union is to respond fully to the aspirations of Africans and execute Agenda 2063 in an efficient and poignant manner.

On this basis, I am very pleased that the exchanges among the different contenders have been democratic and transparent. This first televised debate has, in my opinion, reinforced even more the legitimacy of the African Union in the eyes of our citizens by allowing them to hear the perspectives of the different candidates and to form their own opinion. This flows in the spirit of good governance and it is one we can only be very pleased about.

Furthermore, I wish to offer my thanks and congratulations to Mrs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma for her leadership and her determination which have enabled a number of matters to evolve very positively. I am thinking, in particular, of the widening of the African Union with the reintegration of a great African country in the midst of Pan-African bodies. This is an event of great importance because, on one hand, Africa needs the input of countries like Morocco to support democratic transitions, promote Human Rights and, in particular, women’s rights on the continent. On the other hand, the input of the sharifian Kingdom will be indispensable to the realisation of the goals fixed in the context of the 2063 Agenda. Let us rejoice, therefore, in this restored unity and let us be confident that this reunion will bear numerous successes.

We must indeed maintain and keep improving on what we have started: I am thinking, in particular, of the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) which targets 16 cross-border projects. Today 3 of these projects are at an extremely advanced stage, the two hydroelectric projects in East and West Africa (Ruzizi III and the Sambagalou dam respectively) and also the Gas Pipeline project between Nigeria and Algeria. This is a very positive development and represents an important milestone in reaching NEPAD’s goals. This is, in fact, NEPAD’s very raison d’être: to orientate and render projects viable and define the rules which bring visibility to the investors. NEPAD is the ‘one-stop-shop’ of development.

I would like to remind us all that NEPAD is the first manifestation of the collective will of African countries to take their destiny into their own hands and to bring on development on the continent. Here is an initiative with incredible potential, the more reason to continue to drive and nurture this organisation and to ensure that we no longer allow ideas from without to be imposed upon us.

This is what I wish, therefore, for our continent for 2017 : increasingly ambitious goals for our common future, a future whose script belongs to us and one we will write by our values of unity and probity.

The electrification of Africa through renewable energy sources: bridging the gap.

The provision of clean electricity is crucial to Africa’s continued economic growth and prosperity. Currently, though, there is a gap between the necessary electric utility infrastructure and the scale of our ambitions as a continent. greenwish.jpg As a continent we will need to spend at least 6%of our GDP in energy over the next 10 years if we want to sustain our economic growth. How do we bridge the gap ahead of us?

Nepad has the mandate to drive and accelerate the execution of pivotal energy projects for the continent. The African Power Vision (APV), aligned with the Africa 2063 Agenda, is a long-term plan to increase access to affordable energy using a diversity of resources. APV aims to achieve an 80% residential electrification rate by 2040 and 90% for industry and business. The ‘how’ relies on a combination of off-grid solutions and a focus on cleaner sources in line with global standards. This plan depends on the critical role of technical skills development and our ability to provide a continental framework. Regional integration will, indeed, help us scale up energy delivery efficiently. Nepad also contributes to the implementation of the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative and to the Sustainable Energy for ALL (SE4ALL) launched in 2011. We build bridges between national project owners and developers/financers, working towards bankability and financial close.

The key to unlocking Africa’s potential lies in identifying opportunities that can utilise national and regional energy resources in a way that is beneficial to the continent. With the abundance of solar and wind resources, Africa could become a trailblazer for renewable energy. Sub-Saharan Africa alone has the potential to provide more than 170 gigawatts of additional power through 3,200 low-carbon energy projects working with a combination of biofuels production, heat-and-power and mass transportation. The solution does not always lie outside of Africa. But the ability to attract sufficient funds to secure the success of viable energy projects will be key to our leapfrog.

This is why on the 16th of December, under the aegis of ECA and Nepad, international experts, ambassadors, high officials and entrepreneurs gathered at the Dakar Financing Summit (DFS) for the launch of the “16 infrastructure projects for African integration” guidebook. Three strategic areas were considered for transboundary projects: energy, infrastructure and connectivity. The book aims to guide investors’ decisions by answering their questions about the projects regarding their economic viability, strategic impact, technical specifications, coordination, international support, risks & mitigation, expected benefits or progress reports. It also presents African governments with recommendations to help them access the funds needed for their application.

We are pleased to announce that amongst the 16 DFS projects, three projects are at an advanced stage of financial close: two hydropower projects in East and West Africa (Ruzizi III and Sambangalou Dam respectively) and the Nigeria-Algeria Gas Pipeline project. The outcome of DFS represents an important milestone in Nepad’s endeavour to power Africa.



Africa’s Renewable Energy Project Initiative

NEPAD Agency has undertaken to contribute to the implementation of Africa’s Renewable Energy Project Initiative (AREI), which aims at enabling the installation of large-scale renewable energy capacity on the African continent by 2020.

The Initiative is led by the African Union’s commission, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD)’s Agency, the African Group of Negotiators, the African Development Bank, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

It will have a considerable impact on the reduction of greenhouse gases emissions in the continent and we have four years to make it go from an initiative to a reality. This is why we decided to provide a platform where project owners can present directly to developers and financiers who could consider funding these projects for further development or implementation.

It is really important to involve the private sector in that kind of development projects as they can play a huge role and identify opportunities that will build Africa of tomorrow.

I invite you to learn more about it here, and to have an excellent day, wherever you are in Africa or in other parts of the world !

What Africa expects from COP22

As COP22 comes to an end in Marrakech, I wrote an article in the Huffington Post regarding Africa’s expectations from the summit and how climate change can be an opportunity to rethink development models on the continent. You will find it below or directly on the Huffington Post website. I hope to read your comments and ideas about it as it is an area in which, more than ever, we need everyone’s contribution .

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In 2001, the Marrakech Accords paved the way for the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), which was designed to provide technological and financial support to help developing countries offset the impacts of climate change. Fifteen years later, Marrakech again sets the stage for Africa to advocate an ambitious climate plan by hosting the COP22, which is held from 7 – 18 November. The conference is expected to produce substantive decisions on implementing the milestone Paris Agreement.

Given its small responsibility in global warming, the issue of adaptation remains the continent’s number-one priority. The effects of global warming are tangible and could have devastating consequences for Africa. In some countries, yields from rain-fed agriculture could be reduced by up to 50% by 2020. By 2020, some assessments project that 75-250 million people are estimated to be exposed to increased water stress. We have reached a point where postponing action could eradicate the economic advances made by a significant number of African countries. On the other hand, discussions with a focus on action could bring benefits on many levels: economic, financial, social and environmental.

Climate change is an opportunity to rethink development models, especially for Africa. This is something African leaders and economic stakeholders have keenly understood in their collective commitment to negotiations and actions to tackle global warming. Through the African Union (AU) and its various bodies, Africa has played a key part in talks on climate change, ensuring that the continent adopts a common stance in international negotiations.

Africa must continue to speak as one in any debate and action on climate change. Through the AU and the introduction of NEPAD, the development agency of the African Union, and Agenda 2063, its roadmap for structuring and sustaining the continent’s economic take-off, African leaders have adopted an environment action plan to rise to environmental challenges on the continent. This plan aims to promote sustainable use of Africa’s resources while strengthening public and political support for environmental initiatives and making environmental issues an integral part of poverty-reduction strategies. It also provides a means of pooling resources through programmes such as the “Great Green Wall”, a scheme designed to counter desertification from Senegal to Ethiopia thanks to agro-forestry projects, to prevent desertification.

In 2014, NEPAD also successfully established a climate change fund with the support of the German government to offer technical and financial assistance to AU member states, Regional Economic Communities and institutions. In most parts of Africa, livelihoods largely depend on agriculture, which is particularly vulnerable to climate-related strain.

The commitment to raise $100 billion per year by 2020 is an opportunity to make Africa more resilient to the effects of climate change. African negotiators will need to encourage developed countries to increase their financial support for adaptation before 2020 and better meet the pressing needs of vulnerable African countries.

At the same time, the proliferation of funds to tackle climate change has raised questions over African countries’ ability to gain access to finance. Funding to adapt agriculture to climate change may be one of the most important issues on the table in Marrakech. Africa needs direct access to all new funds with minimal management by intermediaries.

The COP now unfolding on African soil is a unique opportunity to highlight Africa’s needs and build on our strengths. It is a chance to act now to shape models for our future growth. We must succeed if we are to fulfil our commitment to the people of Africa, who bear the brunt of the adverse consequences of climate change affecting our world today.

Mandela day

On the occasion of the Nelson Mandela International Day, the NEPAD Agency joins the rest of the world in honouring one of Africa’s greatest statesman. As we once again join in the annual celebrations of this initiative, we ought to be reminded of his exemplary life which embodied the highest values of the African Union in its drive towards a united, peaceful and prosperous continent.

The message behind Mandela International Day is a simple one – each individual has the ability and the responsibility to change the world for the better. In recognition of this special Day, it is befitting for the NEPAD Agency to reflect on the ways in which we can all effect meaningful and lasting difference in the lives of ordinary people around us.

The NEPAD Agency joins the Mandela Foundation in asking people around the world to devote at least 67 minutes of their time on 18 July – Madiba’s birthday – to a community service activity.

Nelson Mandela once said: “It is in your hands to create a better world for all who live in it.” He was a leader who acted with a steadfast belief in justice and human equality. Let us all continue, each day, to draw inspiration from Nelson Mandela’s life-long example and his call to never cease working to build a better world for all.

Let’s encourage African think tanks !

A decade ago, African think tanks were not legion but the situation has now changed: today we notice a far greater interest in joining forces to find African solutions to African problems. This phenomenon is reinforced by the fact that some of Africa’s most brilliant analytical minds, having gained some experience in the international arena, are returning home to share their knowledge with their fellow citizens. That societal trend of Africans taking more control of their own economic, political and social destinies is extremely positive for Africa’s future.

As we all know, further improvements in governance, infrastructure and education are required if we want our continent to achieve a wholesome development. I am certain that think tanks can play a key role by serving as catalysts for ideas and proposing practical solutions for policy problems. They have a specific part to play: according to K.Y. Amoako (who is also former executive secretary of UNECA), “whereas academic centres focus on contributing to the body of knowledge, think tanks not only contribute to the body of knowledge, but also take from the body of knowledge to propose real solutions to busy policymakers ». Indeed, the outcomes from the leading African think tanks are often very original and practical as they look at societies in the round rather than from single aspects such as economics and politics. Besides, think tanks that are based in Africa and mainly run by Africans have shown a greater sense of the economic reality on the ground and also stand as a bigger chance of securing the ear of governments. This is why they cannot be overlooked.

When the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) organized the 3rd Africa Think Tank Summit in partnership with the AUC, NEPAD and UNECA on 8-9 April under the theme “Creating a Sustainable Future for African Think Tanks in Support of the SDGs and Agenda 2063”, we made it clear that we needed strong and effective think tanks. Indeed, it is really important to change process in order for governments to ably mainstream the use of local think tanks to deliver on both Agenda 2063 and the 2030 SDG Agenda. This is why, during the Summit, regional organizations such as the AUC and NEPAD together with the ACBF and UNECA engaged member states on the importance of mainstreaming the function of think tanks at each step of development policies.

Think tanks can actually be efficient in various fields: for instance, the Africa Progress Panel (APP), chaired by Kofi Annan, promotes equitable and sustainable development for Africa. It produces annual reports (most recently on Africa’s energy and climate opportunities) and seeks to target decision-making audiences in Africa and all around the globe. Also, I deeply believe in the role of the ACET (African Center for Economic Transformation), an economic policy institute supporting Africa’s long-term growth through transformation. Their mission is to address some of the policy and institutional barriers that hampers sustained economic growth on the continent. They even take it further yet by advising governments through the implementation phase including strengthening their institutional capacities, as a ‘think and do tank’.

As a consequence, I would like to reaffirm my conviction that think tanks will remain an integral component in the quest for poverty reduction and sustainable development for some time to come. Today, governments need to be able to cleverly make use of think tanks’ academic and ground expertise, as they have a big role : as the continent works towards its new destiny, African thinkers are in charge. Those will build Africa’ sustainable future.

Next 10 years critical for Africa’s transformation

Following the recent World Economic Forum on Africa in Kigali, I have had the great honour to give an interview to the New Times journalists, Eugene Kwibuka and Anitha Kirezi.

This gave me the opportunity to emphasize that it’s time for African countries to have clear national and regional development plans and fast-track their implementation. The next 10 years are extremely critical for Africa: if we don’t achieve our transformation objectives we will fall back again.

This is why NEPAD acts every day all around the continent for Africa development : in infrastructures, for example, we have 16 projects on which we are working closely with the African Union Commission, the African Development Bank, and Regional Economic Communities. NEPAD’s role is to facilitate the acceleration of the implementation of these projects.

I also introduced the ‘MoveAfrica‘ initiative which aims at being the go-to place for policy advice on trade around Africa.

You will find out more about this interview here.

Liberian President Sirleaf assumes ECOWAS Chairmanship

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has assumed the leadership of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), promising to consolidate peace and security, and calling on member states to work even harder to defeat terrorism.

President Sirleaf takes over from Senegalese President Macky Sall whose hard work and ongoing commitment towards security in the region deserves a mention. President Sall has indeed achieved a great deal during this year !

I would like to wish good luck to President Sirleaf as she is going to cope with several missions whose achievement is crucial for our continent’s future : financial stability, regional integration and last but by no means least: defeat terrorism.

Indeed, ECOWAS member states will have to work even harder to beat terrorism, strengthen intelligence capacity and enhance coordination with the African Union, the United Nations and other partner institutions. Today, there is one main objective : Boko Haram must be totally defeated.

You will find more information here.

The CBN goes one step further in Lusaka

On the occasion of the AfDB 2016 Annual meetings in Lusaka, Zambia, the NEPAD co-organized the Second Continental Business Network (CBN) meetings with the African Union and the African Development Bank (AfDB) as well as a support from the Development Bank of Southern Africa and Barclays Bank. I strongly believe this initiative has the power to durably change the way Africa works.

This ambitious network serves as an exclusive infrastructure investment advisory platform engaging African policy makers and leaders in the private sector on a range of strategic issues related to infrastructure development. It is focused on the critical role that the private and public sectors need to play in de-risking infrastructure development projects identified under the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA).

At the close of the meeting,some key recommendations and outcomes included many instrumental proposals to ensure the recruitment of competent infrastructure experts, development of local capital markets, standardizing and predictability of regulatory frameworks, de-risking priority projects through bilateral engagements with Heads of States and Government, improving incentives for institutional investments and increased transparency of funding plans and the need for reliable data.

It will be our pleasure to present the outcome of the gathering at the upcoming African Union Heads of State Summit in July in Kigali, Rwanda!


NEPAD launches the MoveAfrica initiative, to bring down soft hurdles to continental trade

Today I feel honored to announce the launch of the MoveAfrica Initiative that aims to support the transformation of Africa’s trade by addressing soft issues related to cross-border transport and logistics challenges on the continent.

Indeed, we cannot hope for the industrialization of our continent without functional transport infrastructure. This requires not only a quantitative improvement of our infrastructure, but also a radical simplification and harmonization of regulatory conditions and procedures of business on the continent. For instance, it is staggering that an African businessman cannot move without a visa across the continent. This is why we are targeting in particular the laws governing cross-border transport, the regulations for crossing the border (eg. customs clearance, quarantine), and the systems and organizational resources for the operation and maintenance of “hard” infrastructure.

Current estimates indicate that the volume of trade in sub-Saharan Africa will more than triple, from 102.6 million tonnes in 2009 to 384 million tonnes by 2030, if trade corridors are completed. Thus it is essential to drive down costs and to increase efficiency for logistics companies and manufacturers in varied industries operating in Africa !

To achieve that, the MoveAfrica Initiative will kick-off key activities such as a consolidated stakeholder annual report to rank and track the continent’s ability to move goods and services, an annual stakeholder roundtable briefing, and a consultative group of business thought leaders on improving transport and logistics in Africa. The Initiative will be conducted through the process of planning, implementation and evaluation, based on intensive dialogue among a variety of key partners from public and private sectors at the highest level.

The MoveAfrica Initiative is part of the Continental Business Network (CBN). The CBN acts as an exclusive high-level private sector forum on Infrastructure Investment. It provides thought leadership on a range of strategic issues and is powered by high- level business people as well as public institution leaders.

To learn more about the program, please follow us on the Twitter accounts of NEPAD and World Economic Forum (#MoveAfrica #IndustrializeAfrica).