Intervention of the President of the Republic of South Africa, His Excellency, President Jacob G Zuma, at the 3rd Africa-European Union Summit, Tripoli, Libya, 29 November 2010
Your Excellencies, Your Majesties,
Ladies and Gentlemen:
First of all, let me thank the brother-leader, government and people of the Great Jamahiriya for the hospitality extended to my delegation and me since our arrival. Also, I wish to commend our officials and ministers for their work leading to the Summit which, among others, has put before us for our consideration a Draft Tripoli Declaration as well as a Draft Action Plan for the period 2011 to 2013.
As the Republic of South Africa, we have taken note of the undertaking made in the Draft Tripoli Declaration that (I quote):
“We will continue the work launched at the Cairo Summit in 2000 and Lisbon Summit in 2007, where we decided to put our relations on a new, equal and strategic level” (close quote).
Therefore, Excellencies, the big question to ask is whether indeed this partnership that has brought us here today is “on a new, equal, and strategic level?” Is this undertaking proposed in the Draft Declaration based on an assessment of this partnership since we launched it in Cairo ten years ago?
In our view, neither the Draft Declaration nor the Draft Action Plan attempt to answer this question.
As South Africa, we believe that an assessment of this partnership should have been our stating point in order to make a determination whether indeed it is based on a new paradigm, between equals.
This is our first point.
Secondly, Excellencies, we are concerned that after ten years of this partnership we have very little to show in terms of tangible implementation of the undertaking we made in both Cairo and Lisbon. Are we not making our work even more difficult by coming out of this Summit with another Action Plan when commitments we have made in the past in this partnership have not been implemented? We are therefore in agreement with the assessment made by the Joint Task Force in October 2009 regarding the lack of tangible deliverables that this partnership has the potential to yield and be proud of.
Thirdly, having jointly commenced this journey from Cairo a decade ago, we believe that the time has come for us to jointly review the structural paradigm of this partnership as well as its follow-up mechanism and funding. We recognise that the European Union (EU) has made great strides in its integration agenda since the 1950s. Likewise, the African Union (AU) has also made significant progress in the integration of our continent. Furthermore, CAADP emphasises application of principles of policy efficiency, dialogue, review, and accountability.
Importantly, CAADP has embraced partnerships and alliances including farmers, agri-business and civil society. Increasingly, more and more African countries are allocating more of their public budget to agriculture.
Although the share of agricultural spending has not reached or surpassed the CAADP targets of at least 10 percent, the trends in a number of AU Member States are extremely encouraging.
More importantly, and in countries where the CAADP implementation has advanced, the increased resources to agricultural sector are targeting growth enhancing policies, strategies and plans. Within the CAADP framework, it is noted that attaining the agricultural sector objectives and therefore CAADP targets require complementary investments in other sectors especially infrastructure, health, and education. These complementary sectors are as critical in enhancing jobs.
Similarly, Excellencies, at the Summit of the AU in July in Kampala, Africa welcomed the initiative of our Chair of the AU, his Excellency President Bingu wa Mutharika, who proposed what he called the “the African Food Basket: Innovations, Interventions and Strategic Partnerships”. The African Basket is a new and focused approach that, among others, emphasises agriculture and food security as a springboard for growth.
The slow pace of rural infrastructure development in Africa hampers the marketing and movement of agriculture products from one region to another. Accordingly, at the July 2010 AU Summit, we launched the NEPAD priority infrastructure initiative, which focuses on agriculture and food security, amongst others. As South Africa, we are championing the North-South Corridor.
This is a concrete step that we as Africa have taken to become food secure, and we invite the EU to partner with us in this initiative, and in all NEPAD projects, so as to ensure that this partnership results in tangible outcomes. The Africa-EU Partnership allows us the opportunity to engage on these fundamental issues, and work together in overcoming the challenges facing our agriculture and food security sector.
This partnership can demonstrate to the world, including other partners in Africa, what can be achieved when we work together to support initiatives that are led and owned by Africa, to combat hunger, grow our economies, and create decent jobs. One of the concrete steps that our partners from the EU can take, in the spirit of this partnership of equals, is to be bold and give needed support towards the speedy conclusion of the Doha Round of Trade Negotiations for a just and balanced agricultural trade.
The emphasis on agriculture and food security cannot be considered without addressing the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals that were adopted in September 2000 by the largest ever gathering of Heads of State and Government of the United Nations. In adopting the MDGs, we also emphasised the special needs of Africa. Two months ago the world convened again in New York at the UN to review performance in meeting the targets in the MDGs, and to recommit ourselves to doing more in the remaining five years to achieve those noble goals.
We noted in September that with only five years to go before the 2015 deadline set for achieving these goals, there is no likelihood that many African countries can achieve the MDG targets. What is needed now is not another meeting on the MDGs and the special needs of Africa, but action and more action on commitments already made. The eight goals entailed in the MDGs are central to the advancement of development, peace and human rights in the world.
Of particular importance for the theme of this session is MDG One (1) of halving hunger and poverty by 2015 and MDG Seven (7) of ensuring environmental sustainability. The performance of the agricultural sector and the rural economy on which the majority of Africa’s population depends for their livelihoods, is directly linked to the state of poverty, and determines the extent to which MDGs targets can be achieved.
In this regard, the biggest challenge in achieving MDGs lies in transforming Africa’s agricultural sector into an engine for economic growth and poverty eradication. Through CAADP, there is compelling evidence to believe that MDG One targets can be achieved with enhanced investments targeting growth in the agricultural sector. Acknowledging the unique needs of Africa, and the unique challenges that Africa faces in achieving the MDGs, this partnership has much to offer especially in terms of knowledge-sharing, capacity-building, and financial support.
With only five years left to achieve the MDGs, all nations need a far great sense of urgency if the targets are to be met. If Africa fails to achieve the MDGs, the world at large would have failed to achieve them, thereby undermining the very purpose of adopting them in the first place as international targets for human development.
Critical to Africa’s growth, our vast raw material resources must be harnessed through beneficiation and other means to help grow our economies and create growth.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
“Economic Growth, Investment, and Job Creation” and the attainment of the MDGs have a dialectical link, with achievement in one area reliant on, and resultant in, the achievement of the other. This one-of-a-kind “continent to continent partnership”, provides a unique opportunity to highlight the need for the exchange of experiences and best practices. This will enable those Member States that have made progress towards achieving the MDGs to assist those that still lag behind to realise these goals.
Our future is interlinked and interdependent. Failing to achieve the MDGs and, more specifically, food security and agricultural development in Africa, is a failure by the world to address global challenges. Let us be remembered as the generation that delivered on its promises for a better Africa and a better world.
I thank you.