African inputs to Day One plenary sessions

Date published on source: 
14 July 2015
Source organisation: 
United Nations

Hailemarian Dessalegn, Prime Minister of Ethiopia and President of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, welcomed attendees to Addis Ababa and affirmed his country’s resolve to work for a successful meeting. Evoking an inclusive, sustainable and peaceful future as the goal of the United Nations development agenda for the next 15 years, whose adoption was expected in September in New York, he surveyed both the accomplishments and challenges of international partnership in the past 15 years.

“Now we have another chance to get it right,” he said, noting that despite the challenges there were hopeful trends. Tax revenues and savings rates of developing countries had increased. Aid spending had also rebounded from the crisis and was expected to reach an all-time high in 2015. The private sector had emerged as key driver for growth and poverty reduction, both domestically and internationally. Ethiopia, he said, was experiencing all those trends, which had created a very different world from the one that existed at the time of the Monterrey Conference on development financing.

He hoped that this Conference would be a turning point in integral partnerships, in which domestic revenues were adequately harnessed, developed countries met their commitments, South-South cooperation was greatly increased and the planet’s well-being was prioritized. He also hoped to see 0.7 per cent of gross national product (GNP) in official development assistance (ODA) from industrialized countries with 0.2 earmarked for least developed countries such as his own, as well as improved arrangements for countries that had graduated from the category, as his country hoped to do soon. The obstacles to universal, sustainable development were great, but the opportunities were historical. He called on the assembled to “rise to the challenge and make history”.

SAM KAHAMBA KUTESA (Uganda), President of the General Assembly, said significant progress had been made through the Millennium Development Goals, which had lifted more than 100 billion people from extreme poverty; improved access to education, water and sanitation for millions worldwide; and promoted gender equality and women’s empowerment. Yet, 1 billion would continue to live in abject poverty, subsisting on less than $1.25 per day. More than 212 million people were unemployed globally, 30 per cent of whom were young people. Youth empowerment, in particular, required more investment in education, and the promotion of entrepreneurship and skills development. Doing so, would harness the demographic dividend and enhance young people’s contribution to sustainable development.

Against that backdrop, he said, ensuring successful outcomes of the post-2015 agenda, financing for development and climate change processes were critical. For its part, the General Assembly would place the implementation of the post-2015 agenda at the centre of its work, already striving to ensure a new agenda that was ambitious, transformative, and both improved livelihoods and protected the planet. The draft sustainable development goals, the main input of the United Nations development framework, had been created through an “unprecedented” consultative process that involved Governments, United Nations entities, the private sector, academia, and international financial institutions.

Ensuring a successful outcome of the Conference required scaled-up mobilization of resources from all sources, he said: public, private, domestic and international, as well as a renewed global partnership. Additional financing to eradicate extreme poverty was estimated at over $66 billion annually, while investments for energy, transport, water and sanitation were estimated between $5 trillion to $7 trillion annually. In Africa, the financing gap for infrastructure was nearly $95 billion per year.

He described six areas in which critical outcomes were required, stressing first the need to generate more domestic resources. Tax evasion cost developing countries more than $500 billion annually, which underlined the need for measures to combat harmful tax practices, corruption and illicit financial lows, as well as to enhance cooperation on tax matters. Next, it was important to ensure that ODA commitments were filled and resources effectively used and leveraged. Further, international financial institutions should create measures to respond better to developing countries’ need for access to long-term financing for infrastructure, at concessional rates. He welcomed the proposed infrastructure forum in that regard, as well as the proposed technology facilitation mechanism.

The private sector’s contribution to the new agenda must increase, he said, including through risk-mitigation mechanisms to incentivise long-term infrastructure investments. Finally, partnership with civil society, academia and philanthropic organizations must increase, and it was critical to promote fair, rules-based trading regimes. An inclusive framework for follow-up and review was also required for commitments made at national, regional and global levels.

NKOSAZANA DLAMINI ZUMA, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, noted progress made in the course of the Millennium Development Goals, as well as the challenges remaining to create a better world for all. Africa was witnessing a raft of changes and, for that reason, was at the door of great opportunity. The African Union’s priorities were people-centred and focused on investment in people, particularly young people, to create a “skills revolution” through education. Human energy must be well utilized, and women and girls must be empowered in that context.

She said that resource mobilization, in particular domestic resource mobilization, in addition to private-sector investment in development, and aid were all necessary to reach sustainable development goals that not only eliminated extreme poverty but also poverty itself. She hoped that the Addis Ababa action agenda was ambitious enough to aim for that goal. Least developed countries in Africa were committed to implementing a people-centred agenda, but international support was necessary, and every cent of support would be well used, she affirmed.


BONI YAYI, President of Benin, speaking as Chairman of the least developed countries group, said that mobilization of domestic resources to strengthen production capacity was ongoing, with international funds providing a catalytic role and private investment critical. Adaptation for climate change was critical for the least developed countries and for that reason, they would play a very active role in the talks leading up to the Paris meeting. Poor countries must take hold of their own destinies and champion the proper governance of the planet’s affairs.

MACKY SALL, President of Senegal, said that the paradigm of development financing had significantly changed and the rules should change with it. The results of the past 10 years were well below expectations. Subsidies continued to undermine trade and development assistance was in decline. In Senegal, assistance was at a low level and did not make up a coherent whole. It was necessary to coordinate all aid to support Government policies and make resources accessible. Senegal’s diaspora was an important part of the equation, providing some 10 per cent of available funds. His country wanted to be a full partner in building infrastructure, and to do that, it must work with its partners in a spirit of solidarity and counter illicit financial flows, which siphoned off some $30 billion to $60 billion each year. Cooperation on fighting inequitable contracts for extractive industries, as pledged by the Group of Seven (G-7), was also critical. Access to credit was needed; if Africa was empowered it could repay its loans. He hoped all such questions would be addressed in the context of shared responsibilities.

UHURU KENYATTA, President of Kenya, said that the country’s development priorities, in harmony with the proposed outcome document, included delivering on social protection and providing essential public services, scaling up efforts to end hunger through agriculture and rural development, bridging the infrastructure gap and boosting financial access to micro-, small and medium enterprises. To meet such goals in his country, decentralization had taken place, he added, emphasizing that devolution, however, should not come at the expense of efficiency and accountability in public service delivery. He described Kenya’s accomplishments in empowering women, youth and vulnerable groups, as well as in building infrastructure and leveraging technology to improve the lives of all of its people. The new development agenda would require enormous financial and non-financial resources, which must be realized through domestic resource mobilization in combination with domestic and international private business and international finance. He called for timely fulfilment of ODA commitments and stressed that, to assist increasing domestic revenue, fiscal constraints must be addressed as must strengthening the capacity of tax authorities and resolving the dilemma of bridging deficits without dampening growth. In those and all areas, he underlined the importance of adequate follow-up.

ELLEN JOHNSON SIRLEAF, President of Liberia, said decisions reached today would build on significant gains made over the last 15 years. In sub-Saharan Africa alone, malaria mortality had been halved and AIDS-related deaths had fallen by one third between 2005 and 2013. Primary school enrolment for girls was almost at parity with that for boys and, in more than half the countries across the region, average incomes were more than 50 per cent higher. “Very few people would have believed that, in the year 2000, this kind of progress was possible,” she said, urging States to transcend the divisions that had stood in the way of what they had set out to accomplish.

The common African position, she said, emphasized issues of local capacity, domestic resources, governance, accountability and the involvement of all in the exploitation and distribution of resources. She called for a people-centred agenda that cared for the planet and focused on gender equality, technology transfer and partnerships that considered the special needs of least developed countries. Financing for development must not be seen through a narrow prism of aid. Rather, it must encompass mechanisms that brought together resources from all those who benefitted from the planet’s endowment. She urged resolving issues of trade, taxes, environment and partnership. Due consideration also must be given to acquiring adequate indicators. Many of the measures in the draft agenda were long-sought goals and she urged bringing to a close the effort to make a good document perfect.

HASSAN SHEIKH MOHAMUD, President of Somalia, urged setting achievable goals to gradually reduce poverty, concentrating on building institutions and resolving conflicts so as to enhance children’s prospects for a better education and access to water and sanitation. It was important to combat gender inequality, ensure free primary and secondary education, upgrade the quality of teachers and achieve food security. Sharing Somalia’s experience with the New Deal Compact, which was based on flexible partnership principles, he said the goal was to harmonize aid behind national priorities and build accountable systems. Additional safeguard measures had been created to avoid mismanagement. Somalia had believed that the “country system” was a tool to gain ownership, but that had so far not fully been achieved. With the creation of different trust fund windows, “things were moving in the right direction, although a bit late”.

More broadly, he said infrastructure programmes would play a critical role in realizing the sustainable development goals, which required greater public and private initiatives. It was necessary to increase funding to conflict countries so they could address their priorities. He supported the World Bank’s Global Infrastructure Facility, recommending that those countries be given special attention. He also welcomed pooled funding, including via public-private partnerships and South-South partnerships. Remittances in Somalia amounted to $1.2 billion to $1.6 billion a year, about 50 per cent of its gross national income (GNI). Constraining remittances would harm the poorest. He asked Somalia’s partners to cooperate, and expressed support for reducing transaction costs of remittances to less than 3 per cent.

HAGE G. GEINGOB, President of Namibia, surveying the opportunities now presented to Africa, said that his country’s commitment to effective governance had helped its citizens meet their basic needs, according to numerous indicators. Defined as a so-called upper middle-income country, however, Namibia had been deprived of accessing concessional funding needed by the country to pursue further development objectives. “Instead of being supported for these achievements, we are now being punished and our developmental aspirations are being stifled,” he said. He urged a re-examination of the statistics that placed his country in that category. It was particularly crucial to tackle inequality in Namibia through an all-out war on poverty, for which investment in infrastructure was critical, as was adaptation to rapid urbanization.

The Government, he stressed, was committed to taking the lead in financing development needs through broadening the tax base and borrowing responsibly, first by tapping into domestic savings before seeking global capital. In that context, he called on the Conference to address the extension of concessional funding, including grant funding to upper middle-income countries. Better access to markets was also needed, as were new partnerships in which every country was considered equal, leaving behind the era in which “people sitting in boardrooms in the developed world dictate terms”.

IKILILOU DHOININE, President of the Comoros, said the sustainable development goals would be more ambitious – and problematic – than those in the past. Adequate financing was the main challenge. Some countries, especially least developed countries, would have to mobilize huge resources currently beyond their reach. In that context, he recalled the cost assessments which had cast doubt on countries’ ability to attain the Millennium Development Goals. That explained many of the mixed results. The Comoros’ strategy for the Goals had been deemed unrealistic by its development partners. To foster political dialogue, it had to revise the budget and draw up a scenario that was more aligned with its ability to mobilize resources. “We had to reprioritize our ambitions,” he said, stressing that the success of the new agenda depended on enabling financing mechanisms. Small island developing States expected the Conference to recommend specific instruments to foster financing for them. The tag of “island developing State” was almost ineffective, and those in that category must use another title to attract support. He expressed disappointment at the unkept promises for ODA, recalling the enthusiasm at Gleneagles when developed countries had pledged $50 billion and $75 billion in aid for poorest nations.

LETSIE III, King of Lesotho, noted that while the original Monterrey agenda had not yet been fully implemented, new challenges had arisen with enormous unmet needs facing the achievement of sustainable development. A variety of financing was needed, including ODA, a significant portion of which should be devoted to those countries in greatest need. Debt relief was another important factor, with a need to assist developing countries to attain long-term debt sustainability. South-South cooperation should be seen as a complement to, and not a substitute for North-South cooperation, which should continue to be guided by respect for national sovereignty, national ownership and independence. For all such purposes, important agreed principles, such as “common but differentiated responsibilities”, should be adequately elaborated in the outcome. Recognizing its primary responsibility for its own development, Lesotho had embarked on the preparation of a long-term development strategy, with an accompanying financing scheme that included broadening the domestic revenue base, contracting concessional external borrowing, mobilizing additional ODA and general and sector budget support, and negotiating bilateral framework agreements.

BAKRI HASSAN SALIH, First Vice-President of Sudan, said the Conference was taking place in a “thorny” international context, with the disparity between rich and poor countries requiring structural changes. It was essential to overcome obstacles to implementing the sustainable development goals. The situation in Sudan was worse than in other countries. South Sudan had seceded from Sudan, creating a new State that was enduring a civil war, which made it difficult for Sudan to fulfil its commitments. Indeed, international aid was more vital than ever. All efforts were being made to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, but unilateral sanctions made it difficult for Sudan to guarantee peace. “We need to strengthen our partnerships with brotherly countries,” and with regional financial institutions. Sudan was rich in marine, land, mineral, animal and other resources, meaning it would be able to feed its people and other nations in Africa and the Arab world. Faced with unilateral sanctions since 1997, however, it was in an unfair situation. The needed financial aid not being offered, which undermined his country’s efforts. More broadly, he said the Conference should result in a declaration that was in line with country needs.

DANNY FAURE, Vice-President of Seychelles, said development would only be possible if the means of implementing it were identified. Domestically, modernized and efficient tax systems must be put in place. As debt burdens were significant for many African and small island developing countries, debt restructuring and cancellation, coupled with sound fiscal and monetary policies, were essential. A “debt-for-adaptation” swap was one mechanism to consider, as it both mobilized finance against climate change and improved the macroeconomic positions of vulnerable economies. Oceans, which held vast potential for development, must be used sustainably. Seychelles was exploring options to launch the world’s first “blue bond” as a vehicle for mobilizing funds for fishery recovery in Africa and small island developing States. Such a bond could mobilize private resources at affordable rates and he requested support from development institutions in that regard. On climate change, he called on developed countries to fulfil their pledges to mobilize $100 billion annually by 2020 for the Green Climate Fund. Noting that Seychelles had reached high-income status, he said that recognized national progress, but did not address its underlying constraints. Per capita GDP was only part of a broader picture of sustainability. A vulnerability index could help target areas that countries were least equipped to address, and trade facilitation could help meet the needs of the most vulnerable.

SIBUSISO DLAMINI (Swaziland), associating with the African Union and the Group of 77 and China, affirmed the need for a far-reaching outcome for the Conference, with predictable and timely means of implementation. Trade facilitation for landlocked countries, economic diversification, rural development, reform of the international financial system, agriculture and food security and cooperation in finance, capacity-building and data management were all priorities. Enhanced means of implementation must be provided to developing countries for those purposes, for which transfer of sustainable technologies was key. Thanking Swaziland’s development partners, he welcomed efforts to establish new infrastructure investment platforms. Regional investments in key priority sectors required the expansion of new financing mechanisms, he stressed, citing Swaziland’s Investor Roadmap as an example. Increased resources should be channelled to the health sector, in addition, to stem the threat of infectious diseases. He emphasized that the vulnerabilities of countries classified as lower-middle income should be taken into account to assist their further progress.

BRIGI RAFINI, Prime Minister of Niger, associating with the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, least developed countries, and landlocked developing countries, said that any solution to the issue of sustainable development must consider the security dimension. The Conference would provide opportunities to define mechanisms to mobilize resources. In that context, he emphasized the need to combat terrorism and organized crime; fund climate change adaption and mitigation initiatives; and build capacity by funding economic and social infrastructure. Niger’s scant domestic resources were directed towards combating domestic terrorism, while “aid fatigue” had decreased the opportunities to offer infrastructure and human capital development. As a least developed country, Niger was carrying out reforms, and combating corruption, money-laundering and illicit wealth acquisition. Those efforts must be recognized through the allocation of increased resources. He called for the adoption of a negotiated outcome document that outlined concrete financing commitments.

ALEXANDER B. CHIKWANDA, Minister of Finance of Zambia, welcomed the role of ODA in development financing, as well as efforts to both simplify and harmonize conditionalities. But ODA alone could not solve the problem of inadequate resources. “We have to be more ingenious in broadening the base for additional effective alternatives,” he said, noting that private capital flows were essential for sustainable development. A platform for shared development visions that resonated with the private sector was also needed, while policy space in which business and markets could operate should be encouraged. A vibrant private sector was essential for transitioning from ODA to internally generated resources, and he urged that balanced partnerships be forged with clear targets and based on consensus. For its part, Zambia aimed to improve its tax revenue mobilization through bilateral cooperation. An online tax payment system also had been introduced, he said, stressing that international cooperation on tax matters should consider the different needs and capacities of developing countries. Those countries required increased global trade supported by strategic investment in infrastructure and the removal of market barriers. Investment in research and development, technology and innovation should be prioritized and, in that context, he called for a technology facilitation mechanism.

*  Extracted from:  Secretary-General, Opening World Conference on Financing for Development, Voices Hope for ‘New Era of Cooperation and Global Partnership’, United Nations.  The full sumamry of presentations to the Day One plenary sessions can be accessed here.   

*  Related: President Macky Sall: 'Africa’s opportunity in Addis'  (Project Syndicate)