African Transformation Forum – Kigali (14-15 March)

Today I attended the African Transformation Forum (http://acetforafrica.org/) as panelist on national transformation strategies. I had the occasion to reaffirm that I am convinced of the importance of a shift from economic development model to real transformation strategies. These strategies will require to strengthen the States and to involve civil society.

I need to say that I am really impressed by the ATF and by Rwanda. Thank you very much to all of you.

Africa needs a new energy mix

It is a known fact the electricity access rate in Africa is desperately low. An African uses on average 1,000 kilowatts-hour per year, when a European or an American uses between 7,000 and 14,000 ! But we know that if the continent were 100% electrified, African growth would increase by 10-15% per year for 15 years. Therefore, there is a real challenge, and this involves the competitiveness of renewables.

$ 10 billion were pledged by Europe and the G7 countries in the context of the African Initiative for Renewable Energies during the COP21. If this is good news, the fact remains that it is only part of the solution. Indeed, Africa must succeed to adopt a new energy mix: there is an urgent need to initiate the transition to a lower carbon economy. Today, the continent remains highly dependent on fossil fuels, while it does have unusually high potential for production from renewable resources (solar energy, wind power, hydroelectric power …).

The decline in renewable energy prices (especially regarding ​​solar energy and wind power) makes possible this energy revolution. And this is essential: it is the reason why a protocol agreement was signed between NEPAD and Power Africa to launch the African Vision for the Energy sector (AVE). This is a long-term plan to increase access to reliable and affordable energy using diversified energy resources in Africa. The AVE intends to achieve an electrification rate of 80% for households and 90% for companies by 2040, providing enough energy to serve those who are connected to the network while applying decentralized electrification solutions and making full use of the African renewable energy resources.

The AVE hosts priority projects that can really make a difference: for example, the DESERTEC solar energy project in the North West Sahara or the Batoka Gorge hydroelectric project in the Zambezi Basin. I hope with all my heart that these projects will serve as examples: they can accelerate the renewable revolution in Africa!

Thus, the continent must start using technologies which benefit from renewable energy sources and thus contribute to the fight against global warming without sacrificing economic development. This requires a deep commitment on the part of the institutional players and the private sector.

I encourage African countries and development partners (including the United States, the European Union and other bilateral / multilateral partners), to support and take forward all forms of energy development, given that the energy problem is one of the main obstacles to the continent development. The way for us to succeed in making the electricity deficit in Africa an opportunity is to pool our forces !

Next Einstein Forum

The NEPAD is really proud to support the Next Einstein Forum, that will take place in Dakar from 8-10 March 2016. This forum has launched a global call for support for Africa’s scientific and technological emergence. It is convened by the NEF(http://nef.org/), a global platform that brings together leaders in industry, policy, science and technology. The first edition of this event will set the stage for a vibrant conversation (“Can the New Einstein come from Africa?”) on transforming Africa and the world through a renewed and increased focus on science, technology and innovation.
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NEPAD : Key development results annual progress report for 2015

The NEPAD Agency is central to the continent’s transformation efforts. As the technical body of the African Union, the NEPAD Agency focuses on the strategic development coordination of the implementation of the continent’s priority programmes and projects. This role is now more critical in the context of the African Union Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

With the changing world as the background, and continual innovation on our core strengths, the NEPAD Agency is concentrated on making breakthroughs in the frontier of development. In the year 2016, the Agency will enhance its ‘nexus approach’ which is multidimensional, multisectoral as well as multi-disciplinary. Some areas of major interest into the future will include the role of youth in Africa’s development, women’s empowerment and gender equality, industrialisation, as well as security and development. Feel free to read about our actions in 2015 and our projects for the future here : http://bit.ly/1QfSjgd

NEPAD: Our collective action is only the first chapter of the story.

Today, on behalf of the NEPAD Agency, I have had the privilege to address a speech to the 34th NEPAD HSGOC in Addis Abeba. I have presented some of the major results the Agency has delivered in 2015 across national, regional and continental levels.

Within our priorities and in line with our long term vision, Agenda 2063, the Agency operated over 20 projects and has executed 9.05 M USD as of September 2015.

NEPAD was founded on the idea that only a unique Agency with a global and holistic approach could organize and lead the way for Africa’s development. 2015 brought us closer to that goal of coordinating and catalysing our energies towards that goal.

At the continental level, I would like to emphasize that despite the low cycle that is now engulfing commodities, natural resources remain a major source of revenue for African states and contribute substantially to job creation.

That is why getting better value from extractive industries has long been a key goal for African governments. In accordance with the 25th AU decisions, the NEPAD agency undertook capacity development exercise in Tax Policies and Contract Negotiation in the extractive industries. A first regional dialogue and training was held in Dakar in September 2015. In this domain like in so many others, we identified the absolute necessity to work closely between member states.

Also, from a regional point of view, undoubtedly, infrastructure remains Africa’s top challenge and priority.

With low levels of intra-regional trade and the smallest share of global trade, Africa remains the least integrated continent on earth. We continue to build upon the achievements of the first ever Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa and what we achieved in Dakar on the occasion of the Financing Summit that took place in June 2014.

We could then prioritize the transformative “16 mega PIDA projects”. Thus far, the NEPAD Agency has actively developed facility instruments that are directed at making those infrastructure projects bankable.

From coast to coast, we are beginning to break ground on the first of those projects. I would like to single out five of these initiatives that will be completed in a matter of years: the Abidjan-Lagos corridor; the Dakar-Bamako rail link; two hydroelectric dams, Sambangalou in Guinea and Ruzizi III in Rwanda; and the road from Serenje to Nakonde in Zambia.

Similarly, in June 2015, the NEPAD launched the Continental Business Network (CBN), an initiative we are particularly proud of. We need to improve the dialogue between the public and private sectors and this high level platform does just that by bringing together top global and African CEOs and institutional leaders.

The other field of choice for our Agency’s action has been Agricultural transformation and food security. They remain of crucial importance for the continent and require collective and regional actions.

At the country level the Agency continued to support members state in various areas such as the blue economy, climate change and human development.

The NEPAD also played an extensive role in defending better agricultural practices, notably through the NEPAD Climate Smart Agricultural (CSA) program.

Our action is also targeted at science, technology and innovation: we successfully undertook Capacity development for AU Member States by collecting, managing and analysing African Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators. Countries that have so far benefitted from the training include Côte d’Ivoire, Namibia, Niger, DRC, Togo, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Cape Verde and Sudan…

Finally, with regard to education, students from the Republic of Congo commenced specialised training in child and maternal nursing. The training is offered as part of the package provided by the NEPAD Agency’s project on Nursing and Midwifery Education in Africa.

Our collective action through the NEPAD Agency is only the first chapter in a story that we shall write together. Together we will realise our dream of an African continent whose countries are open both to each other and to the world. This is the only way ahead to face an uncertain future.

 

 

 

The ARLI: an environmental, economic and social initiative.

Africa is facing huge difficulties to ensure food security, water and energy for decades to come, while watching the protection of essential ecosystems which are vital for its population. Thus I am pleased with the initiative launched by the NEPAD on December 6th 2015, right in the middle of the COP21: the ARLI (African Resilient Landcapes Initiatives), in partnership with the World Bank and the World Resources Institute. This initiative had been approved by the African Union in October 2015.

The objectives are broad and numerous: to improve access to drinkable water, to fertilize grounds and secure foodstuffs, but also to fight desertification, to increase biodiversity and to create green jobs. Many goals then, whose implementation is linked to the restoration of forests and ecosystems, the preservation of biodiversity, smart agriculture and sustainable pastures management.

Challenges and opportunities relative to lands management and hydraulic resources in Africa are closely linked to the continent’s development objectives, and in particular to an effective governance. This is a sine qua none condition for the economic and social well-being of African people and nations. Accordingly, we can easily affirm that the way lands and hydraulic resources in Africa are managed will determine the success or the failure of all development initiatives, whether they result from a government, from a development partner or from a civil organization.

It is also important to notice that an incredible energy is currently deployed to solve all these problems, the ultimate objective being obviously to realize the sustainable development of Africa. The evolution of the landscape is a perfect illustration of this mobilization in Africa but also throughout the world. Indeed, the ARLI is not an isolated initiative: we will take advantage of existing partnerships such as the one with TerrAfrica and we will work with various platforms such as the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100) whose main goal is to convince the African nations to restore 100 million hectares of degraded and deforested lands before 2030. The NEPAD and its partners will also implement the ARLI through the Action Plan for the African landscapes. This roadmap promotes the landscape governance, as well as research and funding through priority actions that gather not only every important actor on the planet but also every sector. The “landscape approach” is indeed known to be really helpful in promoting the inclusive use of natural resources, in particular land and water, as well as focusing on the social, economic and environmental welfare.

Thus, the ARLI is not only an environmental strategy but also an economic, human and social initiative. This is going to mobilize African countries as well as the economic partners so as to promote sectorial interventions and to collectively insure the integrity, the resiliency, the restoration and the sustainable management of the landscapes throughout the region. If the initial objective of the program is sub-Saharan Africa, I wish it were extended to the world in order to create synergies and share experiences between regions.

 

Manifesto for 2016

As the Chief Executive Officer of the NEPAD, I would like to wish you a very happy new year. Across the African continent, my prayers and my thoughts are with you. This year presents many challenges to Africa, and promises to be quite busy with numerous presidential elections. In Burkina Faso and Nigeria, people are now experimenting political change through the ballot. The presidential and legislative elections in these countries have caused tremendous enthusiasm. They represent hope for the African people who are conscious of their rights, but also a serious warning for those who would think of violating them.

However, this must not make us forget the situation in other countries, such as in Burundi, which is facing a serious crisis that will not be without consequences on a number of levels. To all those who are suffering, I extend my heartfelt wishes for peace. I hope that year 2016 will see the end of the crisis in Bujumbura and the advent of a new era. In other countries, the future relies on the many presidential elections that the continent will host this year: in Benin, Niger, Ghana, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Chad, the Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Sao Tome and Principe, Congo Brazzaville, DRC, Gabon, Zambia, Uganda, Djibouti and the Comoros. Many elections and various issues, however that should not hide a very important pan African reality: the challenges in Africa are extremely various and highly complicated (human, social, economic challenges, etc …) and the African miracle will not happen by itself. Economic growth is bound to slow and there are numerous turbulences ahead. Here are a few:

– China, which accounts for 30% of global growth, is in the process of rebalancing its economy. This is not without consequences for the continent: the country is a major consumer of raw materials from vulnerable African countries (Sierra Leone, Zambia …). It is also feared that Chinese financial flows to Africa might decrease. How Africa will manage this downturn is now one of the main questions our continent is facing.

– The end of the commodity super cycle is also likely to weigh on growth. The drop in oil prices and other raw materials dries up a major source of revenue and puts a strain on the budgets of many states.

– The sustainability of African debt is also in question: in 10 years time, the continent has raised $ 36 billion. But according to Standard and Poor’s, debt repayment services (which already constitute a major component of the budgets of African states) could increase significantly, mainly because of monetary tightening initiated by the FED and because of the low price of commodities. This will lead states to make tough choices, from the amputation of certain infrastructure investments to the postponement of social services. I make the wish that the necessary budgetary rigor will not impact expenses which are vital for the future of African countries: for example, infrastructure investments are profitable and help diversify the economy. Also, the education sector should not suffer from this: African younger generations need to be trained to ensure the continent’s future. I invite current and future leaders to manage their budgets responsibly.

African governments will therefore have to steel themselves to diversify their financial resources and to reclaim industrial development policies. I will address this subject here in another article this month. Also, throughout the month of January, I will discuss other issues related to the challenges that will face the continent such as the agricultural challenge, the fight against terrorism or the importance of debt sustainability.

For now, I would like to address future leaders: the future of our continent and its people is in your hands. Beyond your accession to power, despite the challenges and temptations, my wish for 2016 and for the years to come is that you always keep in mind that not only your people but Africa and the wider world are counting on you.

Tourism: let’s make the future bright!

Tourism has the potential to achieve the objectives of NEPAD and the AU Agenda 2063 as it can dynamize many sectors in Africa, one of the fastest-growing bases for the travel sector. However, despite the positive developments witnessed in the last few years, the continent still faces a number of impediments to its growth and development. One of the key constraints is that of transport infrastructure and services. The challenge of air travel to and within the continent is well documented. Although many major airlines fly to Africa from North America, Europe, and Asia, once visitors reach the continent, they encounter difficulties in intra-Africa travel. This represents a huge barrier to the continent’s economic progress.

Despite the challenges, the future is bright. Tourism is growing faster than other sectors of the global economy and so has attracted significant support for its future development across the African continent. To this end, in 2004 Africa adopted the NEPAD Tourism Action Plan (TAP), which is a framework to foster sustainable tourism on the continent. The NEPAD, through the implementation of TAP, supports policies and a regulatory environment for tourism facilitation and the identification of key projects at the national and sub-regional levels.

In addition, the Program for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), and other important continent-wide policies, are bolstering efforts to promote the sector. Among them stands the Yamoussoukro Decision (also known as Open Skies for Africa) in which African countries agreed to the principle of air services liberalization. The Decision became fully binding in 2002, but we need all the countries to fully ratify the decision. Indeed, if one quarter of African countries were to implement the Decision, this could create an extra 155,000 jobs and US$ 1.3 billion in annual GDP for the continent.

If the continent is to reap the rewards of air services liberalization, the barriers to achieving a smooth travel environment have to be removed. This is why we need all African countries to support the implementation of the NEPAD Tourism Action Plan and the African Union Commission’s proposal for the establishment of a single African air transport market by 2017.

It is now in our hands to take the bold actions to make tourism a key driver for creating jobs, promoting cultural exchange, and therefore contributing to the regional integration of the continent.

Africa has a leadership role to play at COP21

I am extremely proud to have been identified as belonging to the 100 most influential Africans of 2015 by the pan-African magazine New African (n°556 – December 2015). It is an honor, not for me of course, but for the NEPAD as it is a fantastic opportunity to emphasize its actions, particularly at a time when its voice on climate is needed. When I was appointed CEO of NEPAD in 2009, I set out to transform what was then a secretariat into a planning and coordination agency capable of leading projects on the ground. We laid the foundation for this shift and the results are now apparent: NEPAD has led vital agricultural reforms in some forty countries and identified 16 priority infrastructure projects with the potential to transform our continent. In this dynamic, and in the context of the Paris Summit, I insist on the importance of the African unified speaking as climate change is a huge challenge for our continent which puts at risk not only our environment, but also economic prosperity, development gains and equally worryingly, political stability and human security.

It is time to change the world and this cannot happen without ensuring Africa speaks with one loud voice.

This must not remain a vain wish. Africa has a strong leadership role to play in the world. The critical need for concrete action on the ground saw the establishment, in 2014, of the NEPAD Agency Climate Change Fund with support from the government of Germany. The Fund has been a huge success. As a contribution to the global efforts to address climate change challenges, the African Heads of States under the coordination of CAHOSCC* are leading the development of a continental-level African Renewable Energy Initiative, which will ensure energy security from various sources. The leadership of the continent is also advancing the full implementation of a continental program on adaptation, loss and damage to assist African countries to deal with the negative impacts associated with climate change while seizing at the same economic opportunities linked to those challenges.

Even if we are continentally working on these issues, we need the help and implication of the international community. The negotiations at COP21 in Paris will be considered successful if the agreement reached reflects the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capacities between the continent and developed countries. We will see in a few days if that happened so that together we will realize our dream of an African continent whose countries are open both to each other and to the world.

*Committee of African Head of States and Government on Climate change