Your Excellency Dr Abdelaziz Djerad, Prime Minister of Algeria,
Your Excellency Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of Nigeria,
Your Excellency Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, former President of Liberia,
Dr Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank,
Prof Victor Harison, AU Commissioner for Economic Affairs,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is an honour for me to welcome you to this symposium convened by the African Union Development Agency on the first 20 years of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, NEPAD.
I would like to begin by asking that we observe a moment of silence in memory of the many on our continent and around the world who have lost their lives to COVID-19, and in solidarity with their families and communities.
[Moment of silence]
The coronavirus pandemic has had a severe impact on African economies, on public health and indeed on the AU system itself.
It has cost many lives and threatens many more.
It has also served as a stark reminder of our global interconnectedness.
What impacts one, impacts all.
It is therefore more critical than ever that we step up our collaboration on all fronts as we drive the global recovery effort.
This is particularly important as the countries of the world undertake the massive task of procuring, distributing and providing vaccines to their people.
We will continue to work through the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility – known as COVAX – to ensure equal access to the vaccine, and that the needs of poor countries are taken into account.
At the same time, we will pursue our efforts through the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team to complement the COVAX arrangements and to secure enough vaccine doses for our continent.
As we battle to contain and eradicate COVID-19, we at the same time have to renew our focus on meeting our developmental aspirations as a continent.
Strengthening the work of the African Union Development Agency – or AUDA-NEPAD – is more important than ever.
I want to commend Dr Ibrahim Assane Mayaki for his excellent leadership of the Agency and for the service he has rendered towards the socio-economic upliftment of our Continent.
At this milestone in the life of NEPAD, I wish to pay tribute to Presidents Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Thabo Mbeki, Hosni Mubarak, Olusegun Obasanjo and Abdoulaye Wade.
In 2001, they created this pan African institution as a flagship to eradicate poverty, promote sustainable growth and development, integrate Africa into the world economy and accelerate the empowerment of women.
Together with their fellow African leaders, they developed NEPAD as a new vision and programme of action for sustainable socio-economic development.
This aimed to enhance the capacity of African States and regional institutions to fulfil the collective vision of an integrated, peaceful, united and prosperous Africa.
Over its 20 years, NEPAD has promoted programmes in areas such as agriculture, health, education and training, the environment, information and communication technology and infrastructure development.
It has inspired the Presidential Infrastructure Champion Initiative and prioritised the development of regional infrastructure in sectors such transport, energy, ICT and transboundary water.
Significant progress has also been made in the implementation of the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa, which has the potential to facilitate continental integration in support of the African Continental Free Trade Area.
An impressive accomplishment of NEPAD has been the strengthening of partnerships with the rest of the world.
NEPAD has engaged the G20, G8, OECD, FOCAC, TICAD and the UN system on a new development cooperation and aid architecture for Africa.
Throughout these engagements, NEPAD has been steadfast on the principle of an Africa-led and Africa-owned development agenda.
The transformation of NEPAD into the African Union Development Agency is an opportune time to reflect on the implementation of the NEPAD agenda.
We need to strategically position the Agency to be even more responsive to the continent’s development aspirations.
While it is entrusted with ensuring that Africa harnesses the benefits of new sciences, technologies and innovation, it also has to ensure that historical inequalities and inequities, including gender disparities, are addressed.
I trust that this symposium will reflect deeply on the successes and challenges experienced in implementing NEPAD over the past two decades.
And I trust that this reflection will help to guide the work of this flagship programme for African development well into the future.
I wish you every success in your deliberations.
I thank you.