18th Plenary Meeting of General Assembly 74th Session

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22-Oct-2019 02:16:28
Despite gains in reducing poverty, fuelling growth, Africa still needs international funding, training to overcome development challenges, speakers tell General Assembly at 18th plenary meeting.

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International support remains fundamental to help Africa overcome its myriad development challenges including lack of funding and capacity, as the continent strengthens its commitment to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Agenda 2063 of the African Union, the General Assembly heard today.

Assembly President Tijjani Muhammad‑Bande (Nigeria) said that African countries have recently made substantial progress since signing up to two abovementioned agendas. Strides have been made in fighting poverty, boosting the economy, and empowering women. Still, Africa will need to increase its gross domestic product (GDP) by 11 per cent annually over the next decade to close its financing gap.

Discussing its agenda item on the “New Partnership for Africa’s Development: progress in implementation and international support,” and sub item “2001‑2010: Decade to Roll Back Malaria in Developing Countries, Particularly in Africa,” the Assembly had before it two related reports of the Secretary‑General (documents A/74/193 and A/74/301).

The Assembly President welcomed the creation of the African Continental Free Trade Area, which, as the largest free trade area since the formation of the World Trade Organization (WTO), covers a market of 1.2 billion people and GDP of $2.5 trillion. Strengthened cooperation between the African Union and the United Nations is critical in supporting peace operations on the continent and protecting security gains, particularly in the Horn of Africa and Sahel regions, he added.

Mr. Muhammad‑Bande also stressed the need to promote inclusion in the future development plans of the continent, spotlighting the importance of engaging civil society, empowering young people and women. “Investing in women’s empowerment is a direct investment into the development of societies as a whole,” he emphasized.

The representative of Zambia, speaking on behalf of the African Group, echoed the sentiments of many speakers in welcoming the transition of New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) into the African Union Development Agency. The Agency will focus on boosting efforts to implement the Agenda 2063 by promoting regional integration and strengthening national capacities. Lack of financing and capacity, however, continue to be real problems, he said, expressing concern about the decline in official development assistance (ODA) and the possibility of commodity price volatility and the imposition of trade tariffs.

South Africa’s delegate said that illicit financial flows have for decades robbed African people and countries of their resources. “It is done deliberately by those who have the means but who seek to avoid any responsibility and accountability,” he added. Underscoring the massive potential of Africa’s youth “who no longer consider themselves to be victims of circumstances”, he urged Governments and the international community, “to stand behind these young people and exploit their talents and ability to innovate.”

The representative of the Democratic Republic of Congo, speaking on behalf of the African countries of the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural), focusing on health and the fight against malaria, expressed concern that people are developing resistance to certain malaria drugs. Urging the international community to implement a surveillance system to track such resistance, he also said that producers of long‑lasting insecticide and mosquito nets must transfer their technologies to African States.

The Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said the United Nations must indeed assist in upgrading health systems and ensuring equitable access to health services in Africa. He also urged those who have not fulfilled their financial assistance commitments to step up their efforts.

Several delegates highlighted how their Governments are collaborating with African countries to boost the continent’s economy and ability to achieve sustainable development. India’s representative, noting that his country’s development partnership includes implementation of 181 lines of credit worth approximately $11 billion, commended the formation of the African Continental Free Trade Area as another opportunity to bolster economic ties.

The representative of the United States said her Government is working with African partners to bring forward fair and reciprocal trade agreements. “Not all countries investing in Africa have followed this model,” she emphasized, adding, “their bottom line is dependency and not self‑reliance.”

The representative of the Russian Federation, emphasizing his Government’s recent support to African partners to cope with natural disasters and the Ebola outbreak, also noted: “We have written off African debt to the tune of $20 billion.”

Italy’s delegate said that despite her country being one of Africa’s main development partners, African ownership is fundamental to finding long‑term solutions in Africa. In that regard, she welcomed positive developments including the Ethiopian Prime Minister being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the formation of a new Government in Sudan and the peace deal reached in Central African Republic.

Also speaking today were representatives of Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Thailand, Sierra Leone, Myanmar, Algeria, Egypt, Indonesia, Kenya and China.

The General Assembly will reconvene at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, 22 October, to discuss the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals.

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