Former UN Secretary-General says Africa can contribute to global economic recovery with support from international partners
Kofi Annan has called for fundamental reform of the world’s multilateral institutions, including the Security Council, to reflect the new realities and priorities of the world. The former United Nations Secretary-General has also called for urgent support for African nations to enable them to deal with the global economic crisis and to contribute to global economic recovery.
In a speech entitled ‘The global economic crisis and Africa: the role of Africa’s partners’, delivered at the University of Tokyo on occasion of the launch of the Yomiuri Global Leadership Programme, Mr Annan outlined the full impact of the economic crisis on Africa, which has led to a predicted $50 billion shortfall in capital flows to the continent.
Mr Annan, who is Chairman of the Africa Progress Panel (APP), said that the current crisis has the potential to ‘wipe out and reverse’ the progress of recent years, potentially increasing by millions the number of Africans living on less than US$2 a day. These problems are being compounded by the effects of climate change, which are now being seen across the continent.
Describing the current economic crisis as ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunity to reshape the world’s financial and political institutions, Mr Annan said, “We need fundamental reform of our multilateral institutions, so that they are more representative, legitimate and effective. This must go beyond reforming the Security Council so that it reflects the world of the 21st century and not of six decades ago.”
Mr Annan urged Africa’s partners, including Japan, to take urgent action to help African nations to deal with the dual impact of the economic crisis and climate change, underlining that this was in their own self-interest. “With vision from Africa’s partners and leadership both within and outside the continent, Africa can contribute to global prosperity,” he said. “Africa is rich in natural resources. Its people are full of talent and entrepreneurial drive. There is vast potential for renewable energy to meet shortages in a sustainable way.”
Mr Annan cautioned richer nations on using the excuse of a global recession to introduce protectionism or to break aid promises. “Reneging on promises – on aid as well as lifting barriers to trade – would be a breach of trust,” he said. However, Mr Annan stressed that the main responsibility for solving Africa’s problems lay with the continent’s own leaders. “African leaders can’t insist Africa’s partners keep their promises while failing to keep their side of the compact,” he said. “Commitments to improve good governance, to respect human rights and the rule of law must be kept.”
Mr Annan was joined on stage by Sadako Ogata, President of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Mr Annan praised the Japanese government for its support to African nations, in particular around agricultural development and the Coalition for African Rice Development (CARD) initiative, which is being led by the Japanese government through JICA.
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Notes to Editors
The Africa Progress Panel will be launching its 2009 State of Africa Report at the World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town, South Africa, on 10 June 2009.
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