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At African Union’s Ambassadors’ Ball, Deputy Secretary-General Urges Investment, Action to Develop Continent’s Potential as Geothermal Energy Leader, Agricultural Powerhouse

Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s remarks at the inaugural African Union’s Ambassadors’ Ball, in Washington, D.C., today:

I am pleased to join you at this inaugural African Union Ambassadors’ Ball, under the inspiring theme — “Our Africa, our Future” on the twentieth anniversary of the African Union.

Allow me to also congratulate Hilda Suka Mafudze, Permanent Representative of the African Union to the United States for her leadership and for being a consistent champion for democracy across the continent.

At this time of uncertainty — in which the global energy, food, health, climate and biodiversity crises are increasing the pressure on all countries and raising tensions across the world — decades-long commitments to Africa must be made now to ensure the achievements of the 2063 Agenda.

On the eve of the upcoming United States-Africa Leaders Summit here in D.C., Africa must make clear that the continent cannot continue to be a recipient of collateral damage resulting from climate crisis, socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19 and the consequences of the war in Ukraine.

These challenges are yet to be met with the required international response.  However, the current crises can be seen as an opportunity for all concerned.  An opportunity to keep the promise and course correct to realize the vision of a secure, prosperous and inclusive future for all outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Agenda 2063.

While the current global crises have laid bare existing shortcomings and systemic inequalities that have been undermining the achievement of this vision, it has also clearly pointed out a number of areas where we must concentrate our efforts to ensure that Africa leapfrogs towards a prosperous future.  Allow me to share three reflections.

First — energy.  African countries are rich in energy resources.  The continent has an enormous potential to lead in the global energy transition from hydrogen to geothermal energy.  As we aim for a just energy transition to fulfil our collective climate ambitions, let us make full use of Africa’s sustainable energy sources and transform energy into a driver of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) implementation.  These transitions must be met with the full and accessible financing required, and supply chains must be accessible.

Second — food security.  Our continent has all the conditions for becoming an agricultural powerhouse.  However, climate change, conflict and externalities are some of the factors that affect Africa’s food security and remind us of the need to adopt a more systemic and inclusive approach.  The African Common Position on Food Systems, the Malabo Declaration and the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme and the outcome of the recent Food Systems Summit provide us with sufficient elements to build a joint road map that leads the continent towards food transformation, security, and resilience in the face of climate crisis and other global shocks.

Third — financing.  Building on the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, which underpins the Secretary-General’s plan for financing the 2030 Agenda and reinforcing the delivery of the 2063 Agenda, the recent efforts — including those articulated in Our Common Agenda, the SDG Stimulus, and the Bridgetown Agenda — have focused on reforming our global financial system, while addressing immediate needs, to ensure every country and continent can invest in a sustainable, inclusive, and resilient recovery.

At the regional level, Africa’s financing needs can be addressed by establishing strong and efficient country systems and enhancing regional integration.  This requires effective and transparent institutions that can lead tailored responses to each country’s specific challenges; prioritizing comprehensive regulatory and policy frameworks that promote trade and foreign direct investment, building on the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement; innovative approaches to mobilizing domestic resources, including through windfall taxes on oil and gas companies; and scaled-up innovation and public-private partnerships.

Revenue generated must also be leveraged towards the SDGs, including through targeted social protection programmes and subsidies to alleviate the burden of today’s cost-of-living crisis, and investments in job creation and re-skilling programmes to prepare people for the economy of the future.

Disaster Risk Management must also be thoughtfully considered, to ensure that Africa becomes more resilient to natural climate hazards.  As the United Nations develops universal coverage on disaster prevention, its early warning mechanism aims to make populations less vulnerable to climate change.

And finally, the Secretary-General and the United Nations have consistently highlighted, we need to reform the morally bankrupt global financial architecture designed for an era long passed.  We need an architecture fit for purpose that allows investments in potential to realize the ambition of the 2063 Agenda.

For too long, ideas about Africa have been framed through stereotypes and the narratives of others.  Today, the young people of Africa are reframing that narrative.  This was demonstrated at the Global African Business Initiative held in September in New York with the participation of young entrepreneurs that are working vigorously in the creative and the sports industry, as well as technology.

These and other endeavours are critical to promoting not only gross domestic product (GDP), but inclusive and youth-led economic growth.  This is a transition for us youth today.

Let us join forces in this effort.  The United Nations is at the disposal of Africa with our diverse experience, our knowledge, and the footprint that we have in all countries.  Our robust partnership with the African Union is there to build the future that all Africans demand and aspire to achieve.

I congratulate today all the honourees and I also congratulate the African Union as it prepares together with the United States for the United States-Africa Leaders’ Summit and the work ahead of us in 2023.

Thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.