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AfricaDay: UN chief upbeat

’’What is good for Africa is good for the world.” That was UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon’s message on Tuesday ahead of Africa Day on Wednesday.

As celebrations have been lined up across the world for this year’s Africa Day, Ban said the continent’s economic prospects were looking positive despite the uncertain global economic landscape.

“Growth is projected to increase to 4.4% in 2016 from 3.7% in 2015,” said Ban.

“I urge Africa’s leaders to use these gains to address rising social and economic inequalities and ensure that no African is left behind.”

The annual international event offers the continent an opportunity to reflect on its history, liberation struggle, economic and social development, and a celebration of its rich and diverse cultures.

This year’s Africa Day is themed “Year of Human Rights, with particular focus on the Rights of Women”.

Ban said it was crucial to tackle the root causes of conflict, terrorism and violent extremism, and foster peace and stability.

“I commend Africa’s bold initiative on ‘Silencing the Guns by 2020’, which is one of the flagship projects of Agenda 2063’s First 10-Year Implementation Plan.”

He said the private sector had a key role to play in creating jobs, promoting innovation in technologies and services, and supporting the infrastructure transition needed to fulfil Africa’s sustainable development objectives.

Ban said Africa had the opportunity to pursue industrialisation in a more environmentally sustainable manner through climate-smart agriculture, renewable energy and arresting deforestation.

“I encourage African nations and their partners to spare no effort in advancing these priorities. The UN is committed in its support,” he said.

African Union (AU) chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma said while the AU had created many frameworks and normative instruments to achieve an inclusive, democratic and prosperous continent, there were many challenges ahead regarding effectively ensuring that critical norms and laws became a reality for African people.

“This cannot happen without the collaborative efforts of the government, civil society organisations and other stakeholders.

“Malawi is a recent example, having established a body whose sole responsibility is to ensure that all African Union protocols, charters and treaties are ratified and domesticated,” said Dlamini Zuma.

She said this year the AU wanted to place its focus on women’s rights as it was a fundamental obligation and because it made economic sense.

“Investing in our women is a guarantee for sustainable peace, community stability and cohesion,” she said.

“Investing in women contributes to the prosperity of families, communities and the continent.”

President Jacob Zuma said: “Many countries on the continent provided refuge to many South Africans who went into exile and provided material, social, political and military support.

“Africa Day thus provides an opportunity to celebrate that African solidarity and to continue expressing it through the ongoing support for many on the continent who are caught up in conflict.”


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