African nations have made “significant progress” in developmental efforts over the last few years, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said this week at the Seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) in Yokohama.
“I see Africa as a dynamic continent of opportunity where the winds of hope blow stronger,” the UN top man told delegates.
Since the last conference in 2016, Africa has seen advancements in areas from sustaining growth to strengthening governance and promoting gender equality, the UN chief said, explaining the potential for technology to work as a catalyst in the continent’s developmental efforts.
“Technology and innovation are central to unleashing Africa’s potential for the shared vision of leaving no-one behind,” the Secretary-General said, highlighting the theme of this year’s meeting.
Since its launch 26 years ago, the summit level meeting “has evolved into an open, inclusive and multilateral forum” Guterres said, stressing the role of TICAD in drawing international attention and support for the continent.
“TICAD 7can provide impetus to help Africa harness the power of technology and innovation for sustainable development,” he said, calling for international collaboration to maximise modern tools.
The UN chief stressed the importance of bridging communication gaps to and in African countries in the digital era, noting this was under the umbrella of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, a milestone treaty which entered into force on 30 May.
He said facilitating trade will reduce the cost of doing business, improve continental competitiveness and overall potential. Guterres also wants priority given to nurturing education.
“A lack of sufficient investment in science, technology, engineering and mathematics can hold back Africa’s growth and deprive its youth of opportunity,” the Secretary General said.
He also urged collective efforts to address “the growing climate emergency,” noting while Africa is minimal in its contributions to the scourge, “it is in the first line of suffering its dramatic consequences.”
By way of partnerships, the United Nations, Africa and the African Union have made “a quantum leap” in strategic co-operation with all working to implement the “complementary and mutually supportive” African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
“Africa needs peace for its development” the Secretary-General said adding in closing: “I look forward to productive discussions culminating in a common understanding of the priorities for common and coherent action to promote peace and sustainable development across Africa”.