It is both an honor and privileged to serve the African Group (AG) for the first time. It is not a task I take lightly and know that it will be a most rewarding experience. It provides a platform to engage with other stakeholders on behalf of the AG, advance the visibility of our membership at the UN, and hone new skills.
With the pandemic continuing to rage, 2021 will be a critical year for Africa. The COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on all 17 SDGs has shown that it is not just a health crisis but rather, a global human and socio-economic crisis. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to reverse progress, hitting those most vulnerable hardest, leaving many behind further.
Addressing the pandemic-related global health and socioeconomic recovery, effects of climate change, reducing biodiversity loss, and environmental degradation will take center stage for the foreseeable future. As the recent discussions during the Africa Dialogue Series showed, Africa can leverage its many opportunities to help strengthen resilience to overcome its myriad challenges.
Africa’s increasing youth demographics and its wealth of natural resources offer distinct advantages for the development of its trade, industry, employment, and tourism sectors. Science, technology, and innovation have been identified as being key to economic transformation in Africa. Africa needs to reaffirm its identity and take ownership of its future.
It is only when Africa’s economies, the quality of its infrastructure, the standards of its health and educational institutions, the level of its artistic, scientific and technological products, the effectiveness of its institutions and enterprises, and more importantly the quality of life of its citizens, reflect more accurately its great potential that we can rightly speak of Africa taking its rightful place in the world.