2 February 2022

Allow me to welcome you to the 39th session of the Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee of the African Union Development Agency-NEPAD.

Last year 2021 marked NEPAD’s 20th anniversary. It was a time to reflect on the agency’s values and principles and how it has influenced Africa’s development trajectory. Even more so, it was a moment to think about how we, as a development agency, can continue building on this foundation to emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic stronger and more resilient than ever.

We are on the right path. It has been two years since the beginning of the pandemic and Africa continues to rise to the challenge, despite the adversity we have endured.

I would like to commend Dr Mayaki for his steady leadership of our organisation during these trying times, as well as the dedication of the AUDA-NEPAD staff.

The challenges of the pandemic, however, are still with us. I had the opportunity to discuss some of them at the G20 meeting in Rome last year, which I attended on behalf of AUDA-NEPAD, and convey our proposals for solutions.

On health, COVAX deliveries increased, but Africa is still lagging behind, even though there are enough doses of vaccine for everyone. The G20 was an opportunity to remind developed nations that vaccines must be distributed fairly and equitably in order for the world to recover.

On the economy, the G20 was commended for the newly allocated Special Drawing Rights of 650 billion dollars. Only a small portion of that was channeled to low-income countries. But we advocated for more to be voluntarily reallocated by developed economies, and a number of them responded to this call. This has helped to create the extra fiscal space for Africa to continue fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.

Lastly, on climate finance, we urged the G20 to deliver its pledge of 100 billion dollars annually, to support Africa’s green transition.

The Covid pandemic has also presented itself as an opportunity for Africa to become more self-reliant. Last year, the African Medicines Agency entered into force. Once established, AMA will pave the way for our continent to independently authorize and regulate vaccines and medicines. We note that AMA builds on the work of the African Medicines Regulatory Harmonization Initiative of AUDA-NEPAD.

Ahead of the United Nations Food Systems Summit, AUDA-NEPAD helped develop an African Common Position on resilient food systems for our continent.

With more than half of Africa’s working-age population in the agriculture sector, this is an important strategy to get back on track with the Sustainable Development Goals.

I am confident that AUDA-NEPAD will continue to be at the forefront of Africa’s development agenda in the year ahead.

Excellencies, we have an important agenda today. We will select the next CEO of AUDA-NEPAD and deliberate on the election of the new Chairperson and Bureau of our Committee. We will also hear important updates from Dr Mayaki and our special guest, Professor Leonard Wantchekon of Princeton University.

I thank you for your kind attention and I look forward to a productive meeting.