As a friend and partner Norway continues to support the vision and goals NEPAD, this genuinely African initiative. NEPAD demonstrates a willingness and determination to fight poverty on the continent and to strengthen the integration of Africa into the global economy. NEPAD also represents a recognition that African countries need to reinforce cooperation among themselves in order to effectively address many of their common challenges.
Africa has been hit hard by the recent food and economic crises. Moreover a climate crisis is looming. That said, these challenges should not let us lose sight of the significant progress Africa has seen during the past decade. These include unprecedented economic growth and improvements in governance. NEPAD has been part of this development.
Let me address a few key issues facing NEPAD in the years to come.
How should the resources to finance the goals and objectives of NEPAD be mobilized? The primary responsibility rests with African nations themselves. Traditional aid should primarily be a supplement or catalyst. We welcome the progress made in mobilizing domestic resources. That said, Africa still needs substantial assistance. Commitments to increase aid must be honoured.
Too little attention has been given to the big money flowing out of Africa.
Illicit capital flows from poor countries amount to hundreds of billion dollars annually. This is around 3 times as much as the aid going into Africa.
Lack of transparency and inability to control capital flows have resulted in huge amounts being evaded from developing countries’ tax collectors. Proceeds from crime and corruption move almost freely from poor countries to safe havens, which are often in rich and middle income countries
That is also why international cooperation to fight illicit capital flight and tax havens must be strengthened and made effective. And Africa should be assisted in establishing better tax systems and broadening the tax base.
NEPAD has contributed to giving infrastructure development higher priority in the fight against poverty in Africa. We welcome this.
Africa is facing an energy deficit that may severely hamper development if the power generating capacity is not substantially increased. Energy is a sector that is particularly well-suited for regional cooperation.
The potential for clean energy in Africa is enormous with about 93% of Africa’s hydropower potential still undeveloped. Hydropower is clean and renewable energy. But the required investments are of such a magnitude that aid can cover only a minor share. There is a need to involve the private sector to attract the required financing, technology and knowledge. This requires good governance, robust institutions, technical capacity and a favourable investment climate. We believe that these challenges could be more forcefully addressed within the context of NEPAD.
A few weeks ago Uganda saw the inauguration of the first significant hydropower plant to be built in Africa in 14 years. This is a joint Norwegian Ugandan project involving Norwegian private and public finance and expertise, Trønderenergi and Norfund. The plant will increase Uganda’s electricity production with 7 per cent. And I believe we can and should see more such success stories that will bring growth and prosperity to the people of Africa.
The world has indeed changed since 2001. A clear example that the NEPAD framework was drafted in a different context than today is the modest attention paid to climate change in the document.
Africa is joining forces in the run up to Copenhagen. One among many commendable steps is the ClimDev-Africa initiative (Climate for Development in Africa Programme) , a joint AU-UNECA- African Development Bank initiative, aiming at integrating climate risk management into policy and decision processes throughout Africa. We look forward to learn more about what role African countries see for NEPAD in terms adaptation to climate change in Africa.
We all know that war and armed conflicts are main factors in undermining development. No other continent has suffered more from armed conflicts than Africa in recent decades.
Many of the conflicts that raged on the continent during the 1980s and 1990s have since been brought to an end, and we have seen that some of the countries emerging from conflicts in recent years have achieved remarkable growth and development.
It is important to highlight the role of women in achieving peaceful, sustainable development. This fall, we have seen a renewed global commitment not only to the protection of women in conflict, but to highlight that women are part of the solution in situations of conflict. We need to renew our efforts to promote women’s rights and their participation in democratic processes.
One glance at the Human Development Report says it clearly: There is a strong correlation between the level of gender equality in our countries, and the growth and prosperity of our countries.
So the greatest gain countries can achieve, economically and politically, comes from empowering women, ensuring equal opportunity, health care and increasing the ratio of women in economic activity.
This is not only the right thing to do from a human and ethical perspective.
It is hard core macro-economic policy
Empowering women gives competitive advantage.
Improving women’s educational opportunity gives competitive advantage.
Those countries that recognize this and adjust policies are going to prosper more than others.
We must strive to uphold the pledges that we have previously made towards achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals, and create the necessary conditions for sustainable growth and development. This will be the most significant contribution that we can make towards peace and stability on the African continent.
We are committed to long term partnership with Africa and its people.
Two weeks ago Norway presented its aid budget for 2010. In it we pledge to give 1.09 per cent of our estimated gross national income for development assistance. We will remain on that high level for many years to come. Even if wee to face a financial crisis we increased the budget with 4 per cent as a token of solidarity with those who are less fortunate than ourselves and we will remain a partner for Africa.
In recent years the African Union has played a major part in managing and resolving conflicts on the African continent, not only by speedily providing peacekeepers to many conflict-ridden areas - for which due credit should be given - but also for great mediation efforts.
However, even more important may be the fact that the AU has been upholding the principles of democratic processes and institutions, and the respect for human rights, as basic principles for creating stability and peace on the continent. Unconstitutional changes of government have been condemned. We believe this is a very significant step, not only for the African Union itself, but for the African countries and their people.
We welcome that the African Union, together with African Development Bank and the Economic Commission for Africa, is taking a lead in addressing the effects on Africa of climate change ahead of the Copenhagen summit. Norway is strongly supporting these efforts. We support the establishment of an African Climate Policy Centre, and urge other partners to do the same. Working for solutions to challenges that specifically affect Africa is a key part of finding solutions to our common, global challenges.