Democracy, peace essential for Africa’s development, says UN official

Africa needs to address governance, democracy, peace and security issues as prerequisites for its development, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa’s Acting Executive Secretary, Mr. Abdalla Hamdok said Wednesday.

Addressing the 30th Ordinary Session of the African Union Executive Council, which precedes the AU Summit, Mr. Hamdok said there was near consensus around the importance of governance, democracy, peace and security for development, as well as the potential of development to enhance both governance, democracy peace and security.

“It is therefore not by chance that issues of governance, democracy, peace and security rank high in Agenda 2063 and Agenda 2030 with a clear linkages to development,” Mr. Hamdok told delegates.

The two agendas, he said, recognize that the achievement of structural transformation and sustainable development is simply not possible in the absence of well governed, peaceful and secure environments.

“It is therefore arguable that for the foreseeable future, the drivers of conflict and violence in Africa will include demographic dynamics and the youth bulge, high unemployment, lack of equal opportunities, urban-rural divide, poverty, inequality and bad governance,” said Mr. Hamdok.

At ECA, he continued, we strongly believe in our very special partnership with the African Union and its member states and remain focused to keep delivering on our common vision to build a prosperous and developed Africa.

Turning to the theme of the summit; “Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investments in Youth” Mr. Hamdok said the youth bulge can be a huge opportunity for economic and social transformation.

Alternatively, it can be a source of instability if countries fail to harness their potential through design and implementation of appropriate policies that unlock the demographic dividend and explore new economic opportunities.

“Africa’s children can scale the ladder of hope based on decisions we take.  Our yardstick for success will be adequately measured by future generations if our words are weighted against our action to foster transformative and inclusive development,” he said.

“The pace, depth and scope of any society’s development depends on how well its youth are nurtured, deployed and utilized,” said Mr. Hamdok, adding Africa’s  policies for social, political and economic development need to recognize the importance of young people, especially in promoting social progress and maximizing economic performance.

His speech touched on several global megatrends that are changing the world today and how they present major challenges as well as opportunities for the continent to foster transformative and inclusive development.  

Speaking at the same meeting, outgoing African Union Commission Chairperson, Ms. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said African has to navigate the continental agenda as it seeks ways to weather global megatrends bringing about much uncertainty.

“What then do we need to do to successfully steer our way towards 2063?” she asked.

“First and foremost, it requires that we revive and strengthen the spirit of Pan Africanism, unity and solidarity. It means we have to guard our unity jealously, and to not allow ourselves to be divided or diverted from our agenda,” the AU Commission chairperson said.

“To unlock the potential, the energy, the creativity and the talents of Africa’s young men and women. This can be achieved through the African skills revolution; by creating jobs and economic opportunities; by economic diversification and transformation, agricultural modernisation and industrialisation and by investing in them so they can be the drivers of Agenda 2063.”

Among those who attended the meeting were Mr. Moussa Faki Mahamat, Foreign Minister of the Republic of Chad and Chairperson of the Executive Council, Mr. Erastus Mwencha, Deputy Chairperson of the AU Commission and fellow Commissioners, Mr. Ibrahim Mayaki, CEO of the NEPAD Policy and Coordination Agency, Mr. Emmanuel Nnadozie, Executive Secretary of the African Capacity Building Foundation, representatives of the African Development Bank, civil society, members of the Diplomatic Corps and the media.