Président de la Commission de l’Union Africaine (depuis le 1er. février 2008)
Every year, the Commission of the African Union celebrates Africa Day under different themes relevant to the development of Africa. For example the theme for 2006 was “Working together for integration and development”, that of 2007 was observed under the theme “Let’s strengthen Africa’s place in the world through strategic, balanced and responsible partnerships”.
This year, we are celebrating Africa Day by recommitting ourselves to addressing persisting and emerging social issues such as water, sanitation and health in the context of achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in Africa.
By choosing “Meeting the Millennium Development Goals on water and sanitation” for this year’s commemoration, our Heads of State and Government reaffirm their determination to step up efforts in solving problems related to water and sanitation as vital ingredients of a healthy living in Africa.
The Commission has recognised the increasing disease burden on Africa attributed to environmental deterioration, extreme poverty, and inadequate personal and community hygiene. Accordingly, the Commission has elaborated a number of policies and strategies, which are being implemented by member states, Regional Economic Communities and other partners in the health sector.
The Commission also continues to implement, with undiluted dedication, programmes and strategies developed to promote sustainable environmental management and improving the adaptive capacities of the African people.
For example, the AU Commission, in collaboration with the UN-Habitat, organised the African Ministerial Conference on Housing and Urban Development (AMCHUD) in 2005. The major thrust of this conference was to improve housing and the living conditions of people in cities and towns with adequate access to water and sanitation and with the view to reducing the growth of slums. This was in conformity with MDG 7 and also the Maputo Decision of the AU Summit in 2003 on promoting the development of sustainable cities and towns in Africa. Implementation of the recommendations of AMCHUD by all stakeholders is well underway.
Similarly, following the adoption of the landmark decision on climate change by the AU Summit of January 2007, the Climate for Development in Africa Programme is being developed as a coping strategy to minimise the impact of climate change on the continent, especially on the water sector. In adapting to climate change and variability, Africa needs the support of all and sundry. Capacity building, especially at the level of member states, RECs, and the AU Commission is of particular importance for the successful implementation of adaptive strategies.
As you may know, the Commission is driving forward the process of implementing the Green Wall for the Sahara Initiative, which has also witnessed important milestones with the elaboration of an implementation plan to address the issue of land degradation and desertification in the arid and semi-arid zones of Africa.
Of equal importance is the implementation of the Disaster Risk Reduction Strategy in Africa for which, a strategy and action plan has also been developed and adopted by the relevant organs of the African Union. An implementation plan is in the process of being elaborated.
The Commission is now partnering with the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery of the World Bank and International Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction of the United Nations in the capacity reinforcement of the Regional Economic Communities and the member states.
On the issue of sustainable water management in the continent, the Commission of the African Union has been instrumental in federating the various river and lake basin authorities under the aegis of the African Network of Basin Organisations whose bureau has been adopted by the African Ministers’ Council on Water as its sub-committee on trans-boundary waters. Policy and institutional framework guidelines on sustainable water management have already been developed and disseminated.
For us to avert the threats posed by environmental degradation, particularly water and sanitation problems, it is imperative that member states formulate and implement appropriate policy and legislative frameworks that would ensure the sustainable management of the environment and to improve water and sanitation conditions in the continent.
It is therefore essential that environmental issues are mainstreamed into the national planning processes and be allotted the necessary financial and human resources.
There is a pressing need for a renewed focus on increasing Africa’s ability to adapt to, and to mitigate, the disastrous impacts of disasters in order to avoid deteriorating water and sanitation infrastructures and, hence, avoid water and sanitation related diseases, malaria in particular.
The necessary frameworks for advocating streamlining environmental issues into the national development agendas exist at the levels of the AUC and the NEPAD. The Commission and the NEPAD Secretariat are available to support member states in their mainstreaming efforts.
Furthermore, the search for sustainable and alternative energy sources to lessen our dependency on the biotic resources and variable and unaffordable oil prices remains ever urgent. Deforestation continues to increase at an alarming annual rate of 53 million hectares to satisfy the growing need for food, wood and wood fuel. In light of this, it is important to recall the high-level consultative meeting organised by the Commission in July 2007 in collaboration with the Government of Brazil and UNIDO to assess the prospects of biofuel development in Africa with a view to reducing our dependency on wood fuel and to conserve forests and other biological resources of Africa to enhance water security among other things.
In conclusion, I express my sincere concern for the health of all those people who are, unfortunately, victims of water and sanitation shortages, as well as high food prices and limited access to health facilities, and assure them of the unflinching resolve of the Commission of the African Union to advocate for sustainable management of the African environment through the adoption and implementation of suitable environmental policies and frameworks in the continent.
The Commission remains available at the service of member states and partners to lead the drive to reinvigorate the continent’s capacity to mitigate and adapt to the challenges of water and sanitation degradation aggravated by many environmental and socio-economic conditions. We hope that you will all join us in meeting these daunting challenges, because, together we can overcome them. I wish you all a successful and memorable occasion.
The NEPAD Secretariat would like to join the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, in conveying its congratulatory message to all Africans on yet another occasion to commemorate Africa Day.
As indicated by the Chairperson, this year Africa celebrates Africa Day by recommitting itself to addressing persisting and emerging social issues such as water, sanitation and health, in the context of achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
The NEPAD Secretariat also wishes to commit itself, to ensuring the speedy implementation of all NEPAD programmes, under the leadership of the African Union. The implementation of the NEPAD vision and mission will not only guarantee an improved economic performance by African countries, but it will also bring about improved change in the lives of Africans on the continent.
The NEPAD Secretariat, while celebrating Africa Day with the entire continent and the world, takes this opportunity to emphasise its commitment to working towards realisation of the core principles and values of good governance, democracy and sustainable development.
We take this opportunity to call on all our stakeholders and partners to continue to support the AU/NEPAD programme.
As we celebrate Africa Day, let us rededicate ourselves, to making Africa a better place to live in, a place that tomorrow we can handover to our children, with pride and conviction.
HAPPY AFRICA DAY ! Source : NEPAD, may 23, 2008
Key priorities for action in the industrial development of Africa were among the subjects discussed when the acting Chief Executive of NEPAD, Amb. Olukorede Willoughby, and the NEPAD Coordinator of Trade, Industry and Investment, Karim Khalil, visited the United Nations Development Organisation (UNIDO) headquarters in Vienna on 15-16 May 2008 at the invitation of the UNIDO Director-General, Kanndeh Yumkella.
“This visit came as a follow-up to the dialogue that started at the NEPAD Secretariat with the visit of the UNIDO Director-General in 2006,” Ambassador Willoughby said.
“UNIDO is an important partner for NEPAD to tap into experience and expertise in addressing Africa’s industrial development challenges,” he added.
The visit to Vienna was an opportunity for an extensive exchange of views on priorities of action in areas impacting on industrial development in Africa and some of the key challenges that are facing each organisation in carrying out its respective mandate. Key areas of collaboration, support and joint action were identified.
It was agreed that there is a need to design a programme that will address institutional capacity challenges at the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and the African Union/NEPAD in the areas of market access and industrial development. Elements of this programme were discussed including the possibility of deploying trade and industry experts to these organisations.
The possibility of partnering with UNIDO in the regional implementation of its “Aid for Trade” programme to ensure ownership and sustainability was also explored.
In the area of investment it was agreed that there is a need to involve NEPAD in the Steering Committee of the UNIDO Investment Platform. Equally, NEPAD undertook to invite UNIDO to be a member of the NEPAD/OECD Africa Investment Initiative Steering Group. The two organisations will also consider developing a programme to explore means of channelling diaspora remittances to productive sectors in Africa.
On the environment, a request was made for NEPAD to partner with UNIDO in organising an African Forum on best available techniques/best environment practices (BAT/BEP), as well as, the need to undertake consultations on the location of an African centre for persistent organic pollutants (POPS).
In addition there was agreement on the vital role that the Industry Trade and Market Access (ITMA) Cluster, that includes all the United Nations agencies in this area, can play in coordinating a structured UN response to the AU/NEPAD and to the African developmental agenda.
NEPAD took the opportunity in Vienna to brief the African ambassadors in UNIDO on recent developments in the implementation of NEPAD, as well as on the outcomes of the visit and the meetings with UNIDO staff.
“I firmly believe that you are the champions of NEPAD outside of Africa and we are keen to reach out to you to support the NEPAD agenda,” Ambassador Willoughby told the ambassadors. Source : NEPAD, may 23, 2008
A proactive food security and nutrition strategy at national level and the effective implementation of NEPAD’s Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) are among the basic needs in tackling the crisis of higher food prices. Such a solution requires stronger involvement of government policymakers in the African countries.
These points were raised during discussions at the African Union-NEPAD investment workshop on food and nutrition security held from 20-23 May 2008 in Centurion, South Africa.
Speaking at the opening session Prof. Richard Mkandawire, head of CAADP at NEPAD, said : “This workshop is aimed at assisting African countries to identify and formulate initiatives for boosting food security and agricultural investment in Africa. It is the result of our collective efforts to deal with the rise in food prices”.
Participants included senior African government officials, representatives of the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the World Food Programme, the World Bank, agricultural research institutions, the AU and NEPAD.
During their deliberations, participants identified better agricultural practices, improved seed qualities, irrigation systems, private sector trade and investment as some of the potential ways to increase food production and improve nutrition.
The ultimate goal of the workshop was to help individual countries to formulate specific frameworks for food security interventions ; to boost production, availability and access to food ; and how to cope with higher and volatile food prices.
Through their discussions the delegates aimed to provide each participating country team with :
Proposals for short and medium term measures to improve food security that are ready for further development at the country level ; Action plans for finalising the preparation and financing of proposed investments ; Greater understanding and exposure to the CAADP framework, CAADP Pillar 3 and its relevance to investment options for food and nutrition security programmes ; Shared lessons and best practices on effective planning and implementation of food and nutrition security projects in crises and long term focus. At the closing ceremony Professor Mkandawire said Africa should take this opportunity to elaborate a long-term vision on the challenges of food security and stressed the importance of government involvement through investment.
He described the AU / NEPAD partnership as the major key in establishing long-term strategies in accordance with the CAADP plan of action.
Recommendations from the workshop will be submitted to the Heads of State and Government Summit to be held in June 2008 at Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. They will also be reviewed by a high-level conference on food security to be organised by the FAO from 3-5 June 2008 in Rome. Source : NEPAD, may 23, 2008