I am pleased to welcome you all to the 40th Session of the AUDA-NEPAD Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee.

I commend AUDA-NEPAD, under the leadership of Nardos Bekele-Thomas, for the good work being done to advance Africa’s priorities.

I acknowledge our special guests, the Foreign Minister of Spain and Ambassador Nkengasong. Thank you for the support to Africa’s development.

I applaud AUDA-NEPAD for working closely with regional economic communities and member states to set up regional health financing hubs.

As highlighted during the 2nd Dakar Financing Summit, recently hosted by President Macky Sall, our continent’s infrastructure remains weak.

Last year, unfortunately, the world continued to experience difficult times.

At G20 and the Effective Development Cooperation Summit, which I attended on behalf of AUDA-NEPAD, I shared Africa’s perspective on these pressing issues.

First, I mentioned that higher borrowing costs are deepening Africa’s debt burden. But there are tools to get our economies back on track. Notable examples are the International Monetary Fund’s new Resilience and Sustainability Trust, and the Debt Service Suspension Initiative.

Second, Africa continues to lag behind in terms of pharmaceutical production. Africa’s efforts to bridge this gap are crucial to our health security.

Third, I emphasized that when it comes to ongoing geopolitical conflict, what Africa wants is peace. Our continent has been disproportionally affected by the rise in food and fertilizer prices.

To better support the implementation of AUDA-NEPAD programs, the agency needs to be financed in a predictable and sustainable manner. Overall, the budget has fallen significantly as voluntary contributions have declined. This increases dependency on development partners.

These issues need to be addressed. Otherwise, it is like saying, that we do not need the work which AUDA-NEPAD is charged with doing, on our behalf.

Excellencies, as I conclude my term as Chair, I take this opportunity to thank all of you, along with our partners, for the continued dedication to Africa’s development. Let’s continue working together to meet our objectives.

We will now move to the closed session and begin with the adoption of the agenda. I thank you all very much.