Africa is a dynamic continent undergoing transformation

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BAN KI-MOON

Each year, Africa Day provides an opportunity to acknowledge the achievements of the peoples and governments of Africa and to reaffirm the support of the United Nations for their efforts to build a better future.

The United Nations commends Africa’s recent efforts to consolidate its peace and security architecture, and to reject unconstitutional changes of power. We will continue to work with Africa in building durable peace, ending armed conflicts, boosting democracy, and promoting respect for fundamental human rights, especially the rights of women and youth.

Africa is a dynamic continent undergoing fundamental transformation. Even during the world economic crisis, Africa’s economies continued to expand, and growth forecasts remain positive. However, the benefits are not reaching all Africans.

Poverty, hunger, and disparities in health, education, and participation in society, are preventing hundreds of millions of Africans from fully realizing their potential. Greater effort is needed by all to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

The growing number of success stories across Africa indicates that broader social and economic progress is realistically attainable for most Africans.

I have personally seen the dividends of investing in women’s and children’s health and sustainable agriculture. I have spent many hours with African leaders who are committed to peace, human rights, democracy and good governance.

The challenge is to extend these advances and ensure they reach all Africans, especially the continent’s poorest and most vulnerable people. In particular, we must address the spectre of hunger – from the highly visible periodic food emergencies to the hidden disgrace of stunting that is affecting a new generation of African children.

Many of these issues are on the table at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development next month in Brazil. Rio+20 is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to mould the future we want – a future where climate change and desertification are no longer threats; where devastating maternal and child mortality, and diseases such as TB and HIV/AIDS, are consigned to the past; where all people have access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation.

From renewable energy to thriving oceans, from empowered women to productive partnerships between governments, civil society and business, Rio+20 is our chance to deliver for all, particularly Africa.

On this observance of Africa Day, as the world tries to forge a renewed global partnership for sustainable development, I pledge to work with Africa’s leaders and people to implement an agenda that addresses Africa’s needs – an agenda that will set the continent on the path to the future we all want: dynamic, equitable and sustainable growth that benefits all Africans.

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