Guterres praised the many initiatives of the African Union (AU) aimed at realizing this vision for the continent – ​​including Agenda 2063, a blueprint for the future of Africa, and the Decade for Women’s Financial and Economic Inclusion – and the decision to focus on the African Continental Free Trade Area at the summit which, he said, represents a “truly transformative path to job creation and new sources of prosperity for Africans, especially for the youth”.

Tests on all fronts

Still, the UN chief did not underestimate the “enormous tests” Africa faces, crises “bigger than any in our lifetime”, and called for action.

On the economic front, Guterres called for more financial support for a continent that, he said, is suffering from a dysfunctional and unfair financial system, inequalities in access to resources for recovery from COVID 19 pandemic and a cost-of-living crisis exacerbated by the consequences of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The financial system, the UN chief explained, routinely denies African countries debt relief and charges high interest rates, starving them of investment in key areas, such as health, education and social protection.

The answer, according to Guterres, is a radical transformation of the international financial system, centered on the needs of developing countries.

Ensure a fair transition to clean energy

Moving to the climate crisis, Guterres acknowledged that a transition to a clean energy future must address issues of energy access and development challenges, in a continent rich in fossil fuel sources, where millions lack electricity.

He said that, to decarbonise and develop, African countries need wider access to technologies such as battery storage systems, components and raw materials.

A “tidal wave of support” from developed countries is needed, he said, to match the leadership shown by several countries on climate issues; he cited Kenya’s Green Economy Strategy, efforts to protect the tropical forests of Congo, South Africa’s Just Transition Energy Partnership and the AU’s ambitious Green Stimulus programme.

This support, Guterres continued, must include delivering a fund for the losses and damages caused by the crisis, doubling adaptation financing and ensuring that every country has early warning systems in place, which provide protection against extreme climate shocks.

Africa needs peace

On peace and security, Guterres noted that the UN’s role is becoming more complex every year, with more conflicts, terrorism and insecurity. He called for a more flexible and effective system, as described in the UN’s new agenda for peace, which aims to strengthen the organization’s peacekeeping mission.

This new agenda, the Secretary-General explained, must link peace to sustainable development, climate action and human rights, with greater participation of women and youth.

Guterres concluded by expressing his hope that the twenty-first century could be Africa’s century and the United Nations’ determination to work with every African country to unlock the continent’s enormous potential and overcome the obstacles that block its path. .