‘Africa’s Success is Unstoppable’ Secretary-General Tells Business Initiative, Urging World to Seize Opportunity, Reap Global Benefits of African Industry

Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks to the Global Africa Business Initiative, “Unstoppable Africa — Africa Leading the World”, in New York today:

It is a pleasure to join you for this inaugural meeting of the Global African Business Initiative — Unstoppable Africa.  This week, leaders from around the world will come together to focus on global challenges and zero in on global solutions.  This event is so important because it focuses on answers and ideas — and it puts the spotlight on what I deeply believe is one of the most important stories in our world today.

Africa is unstoppable.  Africa is an essential part of global business and a major investment destination.  Africa includes some of the world’s fastest growing economies.  And Africa has more — much more — to offer.  Every sector of the African economy is growing — from manufacturing to agriculture, from services to finance.

The continent’s vibrant, young population represents a dynamic workforce and a massive consumer and business market.  And the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement will further accelerate investment and trade opportunities.

Let’s tell it like it is.  Africa is facing tremendous headwinds and crises not of its own making:  from COVID-19 and climate chaos, to the war in Ukraine;  from growing inequalities, a cost-of-living crisis, and the reversal of the Sustainable Development Goals; to a global financial system that is rigged against Africa and requires fundamental reform.

But we are here together because we know the time has come for action based on a new narrative:  highlighting the opportunities for new financing models and technologies; recognizing the emergence of Africa’s creative and cultural industries on the global stage; focusing on climate transition and transforming food systems; and ensuring the full participation of women, young people, and the African diaspora.

The world must see Africa for what it is:  a land of enormous potential and resources.  Guided by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the African Union’s Agenda 2063, we can and must shift the paradigm.  Working together, Governments and the private sector can create the conditions for success.  Bold investments and new finance models can put the Sustainable Development Goals at the heart of business models.

For example, Africa has huge potential to move away from fossil fuels.  The continent boasts significant solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal energy sources that could make it a renewable energies leader.  The transition to clean energy could create more than 6 million new jobs in Africa by 2050.  And yet, it has received just 2 per cent of global investment in renewables over the past decade.

Now is the time for innovation.  For new public-private partnerships.  For high-value jobs based on renewable technologies.  There are opportunities in all sectors — from education and healthcare to finance and services.

This inaugural Global Africa Business Initiative aims to transform these opportunities into ambitious business practices that benefit people.  The United Nations is your steadfast partner in creating conditions for business success in Africa and around the world.  And Africa remains our first priority in all what we do.

In my many visits to Africa, I have witnessed the energy and hope of young people — in particular, young women.  I urge you to include the contributions of young people in all your projects and initiatives. They must have a role in designing their own future.  I also urge you to make sure your efforts are gender-equal, from design to implementation and impact.  It is simply not possible to build a prosperous, sustainable, stable African continent without the full contributions of half the population.

Africa’s success is unstoppable, by any measure.  The only question is whether the world seizes the opportunity to reap the global benefits of African business.  Let’s work together to make it happen.  Thank you for all your efforts to do just that.  I wish you a very successful meeting.  And I thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.