STATEMENTS TO THE AU ASSEMBLY
Statement by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon: During the official opening of the eighth Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly on Monday, 29 January 2007, delegates listened to several keynote speeches. In opening his statement, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon thanked the AU President and the AU Commission President, paid homage to the former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and expressed his resolve to continue the former Secretary-General’s commitment to Africa. Citing examples of Africa’s “unity of purpose,” he stressed that such unity of purpose guides collaboration between the UN and the AU on democracy, human rights, good governance, and peace and security issues, including the development of the AU’s capacity in the area of peacekeeping.
Regarding efforts to build peace in post-conflict countries, he noted Burundi and Sierra Leone as “outstanding examples” of the UN Peacebuilding Commission working closely with the countries themselves to shape a better future. He informed delegates of a recent allocation of $US 35 million from the Peacebuilding Fund to support critical peacebuilding priorities in Burundi and said the process of allocating funds to Sierra Leone should soon be completed. He also referred to developments in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Liberia, expressing hope that developments in such countries could be brought to bear in efforts to achieve the resolution of issues in Somalia, Côte d’Ivoire and Darfur.
While paying tribute to the work of the AU force in Dafur, Secretary-General Ki-Moon said the toll of the crisis remains unacceptable, and that it is holding back the potential of Sudan to develop, which may in turn hinder the future of the sub-region. He stressed: his priority to address Darfur crisis; the central importance of the AU-UN partnership; and the need to address the regional dimensions of the crisis, such as allowing humanitarian work to resume, providing civil society with a voice in the peace process, and persuading non-signatories to join, while building consensus for the urgent deployment of a UN-AU force on the ground.
On the MDGs, Secretary-General Ki-Moon noted progress made by some African countries and said in building on these advances, it would be important to ensure a true partnership for S&T and to empower women and girls through education and creative tools such as microfinance. He informed delegates of the upcoming convening of a working group on Africa and the MDGs, to be made up of key African stakeholders, international organizations and donors, to formulate an action plan to support practical initiatives for accelerating progress in achieving the MDGs in 2007 and 2008.
On challenges in meeting some of the MDGs, he referred to Goal Seven regarding ensuring environmental sustainability, highlighting that the impact of climate change will fall disproportionately on some of Africa’s poorest countries. He noted the need to implement the adaptation plan of action adopted at the UN climate change conference held in Nairobi, Kenya, in November 2006, and through the Nairobi Framework launched there, to increase African participation in the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). He also pledged to: make climate change, including climate change in Africa, one of his priorities as Secretary-General; work with donor governments to foster joint initiatives aimed at factoring climate change into the national development plans of several African countries; further engage the private sector by promoting market-based solutions; and to push for ambitious emission reduction commitments by industrialized countries and assistance to African countries experiencing extreme droughts and floods.
In closing, Secretary-General Ki-Moon said that how Africa fares in reaching the MDGs is a test of the ability of the UN to carry out the mandate its membership has given it and that it will be one of his priorities to ensure that it meets the test. He said unity of purpose provides no limit to what can be achieved and expressed hope that the partnership between the AU and the UN can be made even stronger, broader and deeper than it already is.
Professor Calestous Juma: Calestous Juma, Professor of the Practice of International Development, Harvard University, presented on “The New Culture of Innovation: Africa in the Age of Technological Opportunities.” In opening, he cited Africa’s central challenge as how to foster a new culture of technological innovation in an age of epochal technological opportunities. Noting that most national S&T policies still focus on basic research approaches founded on the notion of “scarcity” of knowledge, he suggested that policy approaches based instead on the concept of available “technological opportunities” would lead to different strategies that emphasize technology prospecting and international partnerships, and that use existing knowledge as a starting point for solving problems.
He stressed the need for a new economic vision for Africa, expressed at the highest level of government, which focuses on the role of knowledge as a basis for economic transformation. He said such a vision would entail placing policy emphasis on emerging opportunities, such as renewing infrastructure, building technical capabilities, stimulating business development and increasing participation in the global economy. Suggesting that such an approach must necessarily focus on learning and continuous improvement, Professor Juma then addressed the possibilities for developing such an opportunity-based outlook by discussing four key areas: economic growth as social learning; strength in diversity; renewing economic growth; and creating a new culture of innovation.
On economic growth as social learning, Professor Juma introduced the concept of “learning to grow” being the ability to learn how to improve performance in a variety of fields, such institutional development, technological adaptation, trade, organization and the use of natural resources. He noted the importance of investing in basic infrastructure, nurturing small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and government support for higher education institutions, academies of engineering and technological sciences, professional engineering and technological associations, and industrial and trade associations. He also emphasized the need to identify technologies opportunities to enhance Africa’s development, citing several important areas of science, including the life sciences, engineering and materials science, and science related to the development of alternative energy sources.
Regarding the issue “of strength in diversity,” Professor Juma emphasized the importance of using international trade and technology cooperation as tools for enhancing regional stability. Citing countries such as Brazil, China, India and South Africa as examples, he suggested that Africa could benefit from bilateral and multilateral agreements and partnerships that promote the use of regional technological capabilities in international trade. He also emphasized that science and innovation are central elements of the continent’s integration agenda and so should be made more explicit
On renewing economic growth, Professor Juma discussed the importance of and strategies for: strengthening infrastructure facilities; reforming higher technical education; spurring business entrepreneurship; fostering international trade; and joining the global knowledge ecology. On creating a new culture of innovation, he discussed the need to improve technology governance; identify strategic technology missions; and diversify funding sources. Among other recommendations, Juma suggested a presidents’ council on science, technology and innovation to champion the role of technological innovation in development, and the promotion of international technology cooperation and strategic alliances in the S&T field by ministries of foreign affairs.
Professor Juma concluded by noting that charting a new development path will require creative thinking and risk taking, and that a large part of the cautious approach inherent in international development projects results from rigidities in existing systems of accountability. He noted that all learning processes entail a large degree of experimentation and risk taking, such that it is important not only to assess the final impact of specific projects, but to create environments that promote trust through continuous feedback. He said development cooperation must be open, collaborative and guided by collective learning, and that conventional judgments about project “failure” and “success” must be replaced with a greater emphasis on lessons learned.
STATEMEMT TO THE AU EXECUTIVE COUNCIL
Statement by Abdoulie Janneh, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA): At the opening of the 10th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council on Thursday, 25 January 2007, delegates listened to statements, including one by Abdoulie Janneh, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). His statement addressed three areas: the economic situation in Africa; the critical importance of the Summit theme; and steps taken to deepen collaboration between the UN and the AU since the seventh AU Summit in June/July 2006.
On the economic situation in Africa, ECA Executive Secretary Janneh said the recent, sustained growth momentum of African economies is underpinned by improvement in macroeconomic management, and strong global demand for key African export commodities, which has resulted in high export prices, particularly for crude oil, metals and minerals. However, he stressed that despite the trend of economic growth, evidence suggests Africa is unlikely to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015 unless “new and vigorous approaches” are adopted. In this context, he noted the theme of the ECA Conference of Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, scheduled for 29 March to 3 April 2007: “Accelerating Africa’s Growth and Development to Meet the MDGs: Emerging Challenges and the Way Forward.”
While noting that African countries may face varying challenges, he also outlined common issues, including: peace and security; trade, particularly the promotion of intra-Africa trade; rational and fair utilization of the continent’s natural resources; provision of an adequate infrastructure to enable growth; and the empowerment of women and the youth. He underscored the commitment of the UN to strong collaboration with the AU in these areas so as to ensure that Africa’s development agenda moves forward.
On the Summit theme of “Science, Technology and Scientific Research for Development,” the ECA Executive Secretary stressed that science and technology (S&T) is a vital element in the tool-kit for accelerating Africa’s development, highlighting the strong correlation between a country’s scientific and technological status and its economic performance and wealth. He said that to accelerate Africa’s development and achieve the MDGs, African countries need to scale up investments in S&T, noting prioritization of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) of the S&T sector in this regard.
He then highlighted challenges in building Africa’s S&T development framework, including: weak links between the scientific community and political institutions in many African countries and the outdated nature of some national S&T policies; the allocation of less than 1% of GDP to research and development (R&D) in many countries, which is impinging on development, particularly the maintenance of food security; and a decline in the quality of science and engineering education, partly because of inadequate infrastructure. ECA Executive Secretary Janneh stressed the need to:
- undertake a major Science and Technology Capacity Building Initiative to generate, revamp and deploy large numbers of scientists, engineers and technicians;
- establish strong linkages between technology-based industry, academia and government so that technologies appropriate to national needs are developed; and
- promote public-private-partnerships in modern S&T research.
On collaboration between the AU and the UN, he noted the signing, in November 2006, of the Declaration on Enhancing UN-AU Cooperation. He explained that the Declaration serves as the framework for the evolving UN Ten Year Capacity Building Programme for the AU and as an expression of the common commitment of the AU and the UN to work together on issues of peace and human security, human rights, post-conflict reconstruction and regional integration. He also stressed that as the framework for UN system-wide support to the capacity building efforts of the AU Commission and the Regional Economic Communities (RECs), the Declaration provides room for cooperation in the area of S&T, and expressed hope that the UN General Assembly will soon adopt a resolution endorsing the framework and providing the legislative authority for its implementation.
ECA Executive Secretary Janneh informed delegates of a November 2006 decision to: expand the focus of the UN’s regional consultation mechanism (RCM) of UN agencies working in Africa to include UN support to the AU and NEPAD; and to create two new RCM Clusters Peace and Security, and Industry, Trade and Market Access. He also discussed efforts to increase cooperation between the AU, the African Development Bank and the ECA to ensure the consistency of African development strategies and programmes. Finally, he noted the development of an ECA Business Plan for 2007 to 2009 as a comprehensive programme of action to scale-up ECA’s support for implementing the development priorities of the AU and NEPAD, and the UN General Assembly’s approval of an Action Plan to strengthen the ECA’s sub-regional offices to better serve the RECs.
ECA Executive Secretary Janneh concluded by noting that the decision of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to appoint Asha-Rose Migiro as UN Deputy Secretary-General and to make the AU Summit his first port of call after resuming duty indicates his commitment to addressing Africa’s concerns.