Keynote Address for the Africa Rising Conference

By Kofi Annan

Chair, Africa Progress Panel
Mozambique, May 29, 2014 As prepared for delivery

President Guebuza, Managing Director Lagarde, Distinguished Ministers and Governors, and Friends:

Good morning. I regret that I am unable to join you live today because of a longstanding commitment, but I greatly appreciate that the Government of Mozambique and the IMF have welcomed me to the stage in this fashion.

This is an important gathering, because Africa Rising is a reality. Africa’s gains in recent years have been impressive—and make us proud. Nonetheless, it is important that this conference is focused on the future and not just past achievements.

Africa is in an era of enormous opportunity. But we also face immense risks and challenges. An increasing number of countries are experiencing rapid growth. But the benefits of this growth have not always been well shared. Job creation, particularly for the young, has often been disappointing. This is particularly true of the resource-rich countries that have gained so much from the commodities boom.

So we must question whether we will squander the opportunity before us—allowing jobless growth and inequality to impede real progress. This is vitally important for our young people, who are at the heart of the demographic surge that could double this continent’s population by 2050. Will we invest our natural resource revenue in all of our people? Will we generate jobs and hope for present and future generations.

We should also not forget that for some countries in Africa the main challenge remains to overcome fragility and develop economic and social policies that will strengthen the institutions needed to foster growth and poverty reduction. Capacity building and strong governance are essential in this area.

It is easy to view these issues pessimistically, but I do think there is reason for optimism. That was the conclusion of the 2013 Africa Progress Report, because we saw both growth and stronger economic governance. Democracy is growing deeper roots across the continent—and the accountability that comes with democracy is strengthening governance, including in the management of natural resources.

Clearly, governance is not an issue confined to the resource-rich countries. It goes to the heart of each government’s efforts to meet the needs of its people

I am pleased that governance, resource management and inclusive growth are at the core of the agenda of this conference. It demonstrates that these issues are being taken seriously at the highest levels. The Africa Progress Panel is giving them a central focus in its work, and I want to assure you that my colleagues and I will continue to work with you to ensure that Africa Rising remains a reality. I wish you the best of luck with this conference and thank you for your attention.

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