“I see Africa as a dynamic continent of opportunity where winds of hope are blowing ever stronger,” the U.N. Secretary-General said.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres praised the “significant progress” made by African nations over the last few years, as part of his opening statement Wednesday in the 7th Tokyo International Conference on African Development currently held in the Japanese city of Yokohama with the participation of more than 20 African leaders.
The UN chief expressed that since the last summit in 2016, African countries have progressed in areas such as growth, governance, and gender equality. TICAD is a summit-level international meeting regarding the development of Africa that was launched by Japan in 1993.
“I see Africa as a dynamic continent of opportunity where winds of hope are blowing ever stronger,” Guterres said.
Stressing the theme of this year’s conference, he explained the potential for technology to work as a catalyst in the continent’s developmental efforts.
“Technology and innovation are central to unleashing Africa’s vast potential for the shared vision of leaving no one behind,” adding that “TICAD 7 may provide tremendous impetus to help Africa harness the power of technology and innovation for its sustainable development.”
The U.N. chief stressed the importance of bridging communications gaps to and within African states in the digital era, noting this falls under the umbrella of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), a “milestone treaty” which was launched on May 30.
AfCFTA which encompasses some of the most powerful economies in Africa, such as Egypt, South Africa, Ethiopia, and Kenya is looking forward to implementing a single market to allow the free movement of workers and investments across the continent.
The application of the agreement, however, will not be easy, due to such factors as the enormous heterogeneity of countries, the lack of infrastructure, and the possible lack of consensus on tariffs.
But Guterres pointed out that trade will reduce the cost of doing business, improve the continent’s competitiveness, and overall potential. Also insisting that a priority must be given to nurturing education.
“A lack of sufficient investment in education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics can hold back Africa’s growth and deprive its youth of opportunity.”
Finally, the Secretary-General urged for collective efforts to address “the growing climate emergency,” noting that while Africa is minimal in its contributions to the scourge, “it is in the first line of suffering its dramatic consequences.”
“Africa needs peace for its development,” the Secretary-General said while closing.