While there has been great social and economic progress across Africa, its economies have not kept pace with legitimate demands, including providing jobs to young people, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson told a high-level meeting of regional partners at UN headquarters in New York this week.
“Unemployment is not just an economic challenge. It is also a social, psychological and political one,” Eliasson said at the briefing by African Regional Economic Communities (RECs) to member states and the UN system.
The event, on the role of Africa’s RECs in consolidating peace, security, governance and development in the context of Agenda 2063, was co-organised by the Office of the Special Adviser on Africa, Permanent Observer Mission of the African Union to the UN and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) Regional Bureau for Africa.
According to a media statement discussions focused on development and the long-term future of the continent in the light of the African Union’s Continental Agenda 2063.
Eliasson said the Agenda 2063 plan will need to be forged around stronger regional integration, requiring increased competitiveness in African economies. The process should also be underpinned by major investments in human development, science, technology and infrastructure.
He pointed out trade among African countries remains limited, mainly because they do not have adequate railways, roads and other infrastructure. Many African economies also lack sufficient economic diversification, productivity and well-functioning institutions.
Some African countries have experienced impressive growth thanks to the leadership of African Governments, the African Union, the RECs and the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).
But while more African children go to school than ever before and there have been advancements in women’s empowerment and gender equality, Africa is off track to meeting many of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Humanitarian and security situations throughout the continent are concerning, especially in Mali, South Sudan, Central African Republic (CAR), Northern Nigeria and Somalia. The political situation in Libya is growing more dangerous. Meanwhile, Lesotho is facing a risky political stalemate.
Eliasson commended the role of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) in mediating the ongoing crisis in CAR.
Meanwhile, the Ebola virus is presenting new and serious challenges in West Africa, he said, mentioning the efforts of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union to speedily mobilise resources and awareness.
“The United Nations has mobilised to a degree rarely seen,” Eliasson said adding the newly established UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) was working hard to stop the outbreak and treat the infected.
Under-Secretary General and UN Special Adviser on Africa, Maged Abdelaziz, said: “Agenda 2063 embodies a renewed commitment by Africa’s political leadership to achieving the pan-African vision of an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena.”
Efforts to finalise development of Agenda 2063 are still ongoing. It is currently envisaged that Agenda 2063 and its first 10-year plan will be adopted at the next Summit of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union in January 2015.