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UN chief urges Africa’s integration into global economy

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said African countries must adopt proactive policies and their partners must help forge an enabling international environment to accelerate the integration of African economy.

Ban made the statement on Saturday at the fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD V) in Japan.

A UN statement made available to PANA in New York Sunday quoted the Secretary-General as calling for better integration of Africa into the global economy and to make African economies more resilient.

“Responsible foreign investment holds more potential for Africa than any other source of development capital, including official development assistance,” Ban said.

He said Africa’s share in global foreign direct investment flows is around 3.5 per cent, while most of the continent’s trade and investment are focus on a limited number of commodities exported to a limited number of destinations.

“It is important to complete the Doha Trade Round and ensure that African companies have access to major markets,” Ban said.

The Doha Trade Round, which is an ongoing negotiations under the umbrella of the UN-supported World Trade Organization (WTO), is meet to address non-tariff barriers.

He also urged opportunities for trade beyond traditional markets, particularly among emerging economies, and a greater focus on intra-African trade among the African Union (AU) members.

“We also need to address the crippling lack of infrastructure. energy, transportation and communications systems are essential to functioning business,” Ban said.

He said his Sustainable Energy for All initiative, which aims to achieve universal energy access, improve energy efficiency and increase the use of renewable energy, “can help spur progress in Africa”.

He also urged companies to observe the Principles for Responsible Agricultural Investment developed by the UN and the World Bank, and called on investors to support the growth of small-scale local business but to also respect human rights and property rights.

Also at the Tokyo Conference, the head of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), Ms. Helen
Mark, moderated a panel to identify priority actions for closing gender equality gaps in Africa
and ensuring that gender equality is central to the post-2015 development agenda.

The panel focused on best practices in addressing such challenges as maternal health, food security, sexual violence and barriers to women’s economic, legal and political empowerment, as well as to their participation in peace building.

It also noted the importance of women in agriculture where they are estimated to account for nearly 50 percent of the agricultural labor force in sub-Saharan Africa.

“One of the most important steps countries can take to drive progress is to ensure and improve the political, economic and social rights and opportunities of women,” Ms. Clark said.

“Africa has achieved notable economic growth in recent years. To be sustained, that growth must be inclusive, and translate into concrete improvements in the lives of women, men and children,” She added.

The statement further disclosed that participants at TICAD V also discussed peace and stability in Africa and in his remarks.

Ban said that there are fewer conflicts in Africa than in the past, “but new threats are emerging” including the rise of transnational crime, piracy, terrorism and radicalization.

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