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Ladies and gentlemen,
Chers membres du Groupe Afrique,
Je vous souhaite à tous la bienvenue aujourd'hui, ou, comme j’ai appris lors de mon voyage au Kenya le mois dernier: Karibu! Welcome to you all!
I would like to thank the Chair of the Africa Group, Ambassador Philbert Johnson of Ghana, for bringing us together to celebrate the rich history and vibrant cultures of the African continent, and I thank him for his call to march forward to secure the future of Africa.
As an African myself, I am proud to join you in today’s celebration as we strive to advance peace, justice and sustainable development on our African continent.
I am particularly pleased to note the leadership role played by the Africa Group to advance multilateralism here in Vienna, with you Ambassador Johnson as Chair of FINGOV, and Ambassador Mugwanja of Kenya leading last week’s CCPCJ.
Africa is well represented at the UN in Vienna.
Today we celebrate Africa’s progress and successes.
Africa has made important gains in tackling the social and health challenges that come with a population of over 1.4 billion, with a significant increase in average life expectancy over the past 20 years.
African women have taken strides forward, for example in Tanzania, which elected its first female President in 2021; in Rwanda, which now has 60 percent of parliamentary seats held by women; and in Ethiopia, which appointed its first female Chief Justice.
Progress has also been made in the fight against HIV/AIDS, with AIDS-related deaths falling by almost 55% between 2010 and the end of 2021 according to the WHO.
And in 2020, the African Union successfully launched the African Continental Free Trade Area, which holds the potential to lift 30 million people out of poverty.
There is much to be proud of. As the Secretary-General said in his message this year, “Africa’s dynamism is unstoppable and its potential is breathtaking.”
I believe that to fully tap into this potential, we must tap into the continent’s most valuable resource: its young people.
With 60% of the continent’s population under the age of 25, young Africans are the future. But they can only be the driving force of the continent’s success if we invest in access to education for all young people.
UNESCO data indicates that of the 244 million children out of school worldwide, 40% of them live in Sub-Saharan Africa alone. Investing in their education is an utmost priority.
Technology holds the key. With it, we can ensure quality education reaches every corner of the continent, through online learning platforms, digital libraries and virtual classrooms.
We therefore need to invest in digital infrastructure to close the global digital divide. So I am glad that you are launching the Africa Interactive project to promote the use of smart media among younger generations.
By investing in technology, we are investing in Africa’s future success.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The UN Office at Vienna and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime are committed to being a partner on Africa’s path to progress.
UNODC is supporting African countries in combating drugs, crime, corruption, and terrorism, with a field presence of 33 programme offices, 4 regional offices, and almost 500 staff working on the ground across the continent.
Through our Strategic Vision for Africa 2030 we are addressing specific African needs and priorities, and I am proud to say that, since the launch of the Strategic Vision in 2021, UNODC’s yearly implementation rate in Africa has risen by $20 million, reaching $103 million in 2022.
To this end, we have many ongoing impactful initiatives in Africa in all areas of UNODC’s mandate.
In Kenya, for example, we are establishing a new anti-corruption hub to bring together regional efforts against corruption in Eastern Africa.
In Uganda, we recently launched a $12 million five-year program to enhance access to justice systems and mainstream gender-responsive approaches to combat trafficking in all its forms.
In West Africa, we now implement all of our Transnational Organized Crime programmes from our Programme Office in Cote d’Ivoire, to ensure a more coordinated response across the region.
We also promote health and security across the continent through balanced drug control and effective responses to drug-related challenges, from training container control units on seizures, to supporting drug testing and forensic laboratories, to helping several African countries introduce important services such as Opioid Agonist Therapy programmes.
You can count on our support as we continue this important work in the years ahead.
As we celebrate Africa’s success, let us look to the future with a renewed sense of purpose, hope, and commitment to achieving both Agenda 2030 and Agenda 2063.
As Nelson Mandela once said, “it is in your hands to make a better world for all who live in it.”
Together, we can achieve a prosperous, peaceful Africa for all those who live in it.