Kigali, 27 January 2017

Good morning to you all. I see some other people in the audience, like Minister Amina Mohamed, UN Deputy Secretary General Designate; the Secretary General of COMESA Sindiso Ngwenya; and other important leaders in the audience.

Amina Mohamed has been serving in other capacities. She agreed to work with us on the task given to us by the African Union to reform the institution.

Then the UN Secretary General came calling, and since he has right of way, we obliged. But she’s been working with us, and we will be presenting a report to the upcoming AU Summit in Addis Ababa.

But this speaks to the fact that we were one step ahead of the SG, when we asked her to join us.

Let me welcome our guests to Rwanda. Many of you are here for this one-day event but I hope you will stay longer to explore the country, and get to know more about the people.

I want to thank you for joining us to launch the SDG Center for Africa and discuss how we can work together to accelerate the implementation of our continent’s development agenda.

I would like to thank Dr Begashaw and his team, for the good work that has been done in the past year, to set up the center here in Kigali, as well as the funders who have made it possible. I also thank Jeffrey Sachs for being the very strong force behind the creation of this idea.

The SDG framework is intended to be applicable and relevant to all countries, not just the developing ones.

But as Africans, we should see this as an unprecedented opportunity to bridge the gap between our current challenges and our ambitions by doing, once and for all, the right things, in the right way.

This center will serve as an important focal point for advocacy and coordination. But like the SDGs themselves this institution is a tool to help us get what we really want, and that is results.

We therefore have to ensure that the actions we take contribute to fundamental change in the lives of the people who need it most.

Events around the world teach us that both fragility and strength can be found in any country. So we all have a role to play, and what is really important is cooperation, working closely together to make progress.

The total amount of traditional aid from all donors adds up to less than 5% of the estimated cost of the investments needed each year to achieve the SDGs. That figure is not going to increase very much, if at all.

Therefore, as we continue to make the best use of available development aid, the solution to funding the SDGs has to come from business activity, philanthropy, government, and the individual contributions of the world’s billions of citizens.

In order to succeed, we will need to integrate important lessons from implementing the MDGs, particularly promoting gender equality, and harnessing science and technology.

Raising our focus from reducing poverty to building prosperity will also require closer collaboration with, as well as higher expectations of, the private sector. And that’s why we’re are happy to have Mr Dangote here.

We do not need to re-invent business, or change its mission. It should keep doing what it does best. But all the stakeholders should be measured against the same standards and goals. We therefore have to establish a clear way to measure  impact of both public and private sector actors

We are a year into the SDG framework, and it is time to create certainty and build momentum by deciding how to monitor and evaluate progress.

Building the data systems required to operationalise the SDGs should be a strategic focus for public-private partnership. I am glad that Dangote made a mention of this earlier in his remarks.

The companies involved have extensive experience designing and managing complex information systems. We need to draw on it, and work together.

In addition, when the contributions of all the various actors are visible and comparable, it is much easier to see how initiatives can leverage each other to achieve results for citizens.

Let me end with a final point, which is also the most critical. And this is, instilling the mindsets and habits that are most conducive to attaining the SDGs. Ultimately, it’s about what citizens do with their own time and money.

For Rwanda, a consultative and participatory approach has been indispensable to the modest progress that has been achieved. But we can all do more, and better.

The SDGs offer a unique opportunity to highlight the importance of good politics, and make it more widely understood as a prerequisite for inclusive and sustainable development.

Thus, these global goals should not be seen as an external agenda, but as an integrated part of a country’s development vision.

Once again, I thank you for your participation and contributions, and wish you a very productive conference.