AN ADDRESS OF WELCOME BY CHAIRMAN, BOARD OF TRUSTEES, REALITY OF AID AFRICA, MR LEO ATAKPU AT THE MULTISTAKEHOLDER CONFERENCE ON PROMOTION OF LOCALISATION OF DEVELOPMENT EFFECTIVENESS THROUGH NATIONAL LEADERSHIP AND BUILDING OF TRUST, 17-18, NOVEMBER, NAIROBI, KENYA.
Your excellency Minister of Foreign Affairs Kenya, Dr. Alfred Mutua
Government officials here present
Ladies and gentlemen
It is a great please to give the welcome remarks on behalf of members of Realty of Aid Africa Network. As you may already know, the Covid 19 had limited travel and restricted us to the virtual realities of development co-operation. This meeting marks the first of its kind since 2016 when we met here in Nairobi to prepare for the Second High level meeting. It is indeed refreshing to see some familiar faces. It gives me hope that the struggle for the emancipation of our continent is still growing strong.
This meeting comes a time when the preparation for the third high level meeting dubbed the summit is in high gears. Africa has not been left behind in this regard. There are currently technical discussions taking place under the leadership of AUDA NEPAD to gather the voices of Africa in order to speak with one voice. We hope that this meeting conclusions will contribute to that voice.
Ladies and gentlemen, as you may be aware, the HLM3 Summit on Effective Development Cooperation, will hold from 12 to 14 December 2022 in Geneva, Switzerland with a focus on making GPEDC fit for purpose and especially at the national level in order to respond to the multiple crisis the work is faced with. For Africa, the meeting has come at an opportune time. The calls for strengthening the localization agenda through stronger democratic ownership and the increasing call for decolonization of aid are gaining momentum. Africa, therefore, is at a critical juncture of changing the course of development partnership under the GPEDC platfrom.
Strengthening Development cooperation at country level amongst all stakeholders is fundamental as we plan towards the HLM3 and I will like to quote Mr. Thomas Gass the Co-Chair of the HLM3 Steering Committee from Switzerland representing the host of this year’s Summit who highlighted that “we need to demonstrate that we can walk the talk on country ownership, results, multi-stakeholder involvement, and accountability and transparency – these four principles are critical for building trust. This is what we want to convey at the Summit in December. We want to make sure there is new commitment by all development partners to the principles.”
His position throws up the need for effective co-operation that is country owned, focused on results, involves all type of partners, and is transparent and accountable, strengthens trust that leads to impactful partnerships and better results in countries.
It is believed that only through actions based on country priorities can we strengthen national systems and deliver sustainable development for all.
I strongly believe that harnessing the power of partnerships is key to deliver results. Governments, parliamentarians, civil society, the private sector and others – all play a distinct and crucial role in building resilient communities and targeting those most in need.
I have given this background as a basis for our gathering here this next two days and I welcome you to this crucial Multistakeholder Conference on Promotion of Localisation of Development Effectiveness through National Leadership and Building of Trust. The Meeting is convened by Reality of Aid Africa in Collaboration with Oxfam and I thank Oxfam for their support. This Conference is expected to serve as a mechanism for galvanizing African civil society organizations to strategize and plan their engagement towards the HLM3 at the African level.
We hope to have exchanges these two days on localization of Aid for development through trust building and partnership for Africa’s development. We also plan to use this meeting to interrogate the process and the position taken by the African governments towards the summit in order to develop their own advocacy strategy towards the summit.
It is worthy of note that, the HLM3 is taking place at the midpoint of Agenda 2030, as the Summit is expected to put a spotlight on how better co-operation strengthens trust and transforms the way we work together.
The second Annual Meeting of the DAC Community of Practice on Poverty and Inequality which held from 19-20 October 2022, noted that “Progress on poverty reduction was slowing before 2020, but the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic—compounded later by Russia-Ukrain war led to an unprecedented increase in poverty levels while global inequality is now rising for the first time in decades, as shown in the World Bank’s report on Poverty and Shared Prosperity 2022. High-income countries have been able to fully offset the impact of COVID-19 on poverty, but their upper-middle income counterparts have only offset half of this impact while lower-middle and low-income countries have only been able to offset just over a quarter.”
It is imperative to note that in a new era of global challenges – the pandemic, a deepening climate emergency, wars and many economic shocks – we must chart sustainable pathways for a just recovery across sectors and geographies. Effective partnering is a compass and catalyst for using local, national and of course, global resources in the best possible way for the fastest and most sustainable impact as we look to achieve the SDGs.
Organisers of the HLM3 believe that all co-operation partners need to balance ongoing short-term pressures with delivering on the vision for long-term well-being for the people and planet. But a hindsight of where we are coming from needs to be called into reasoning at this point. The Senior Level Meeting (SLM) held 13-14 July 2019 in New York reviewed progress made in the implementation of the HLM2 which took place here in Nairobi 28 Nov-Dec 1, 2016 and the First HLM1 which took place in Mexico City in April 2014 outcome documents. What progress have we made as stakeholders? I think the answer is well known to all.
That said, I believe that we need to challenge ourselves more in Africa. At the onset, the Paris Declaration states that “while the volumes of aid and other development resources must increase to achieve [the Millennium Development Goals], aid effectiveness must increase significantly as well to support partner country efforts to strengthen governance and improve development performance.” Impliedly, aid is meant to lift benefiting countries out of their economic doldrum and put them on the path of prosperity. Several years and HLMs/SLM down the road, poverty and inequality remain pervasive in Africa.
A rhetorical question that is often asked in forums such as this in Africa is; how long are we to remain aid-dependent or aid recipients as a region? All suggestions thrown up so far have not received the political will of our political leaders and the fighting spirit of Civil Society activists in the region to drive the needed change to turn things around for Africa.
How can countries at war in faraway Russia and Ukraine create special corridor to ship grains to Africa so that our brothers and sisters would not die of hunger and starvation? How come countries that have exited debts crisis are fully back to the status of Heavily Indebted poor countries in Africa?
How come one of the richest continents, if not the richest in terms of natural resources remain aid dependent and not much is happening nationally in our countries to make Africa net exporters of finished goods to the rest of the world?
The second scramble for Africa between the Western world and emerging Asian economies puts Africa in a very dire condition of survival as Chinese, Indians et al take over our industrial and infrastructural sectors with the attendant consequences for our countries and our leaders continue to bleed our commonwealth while we sit back and look and lament year in, year out.
I am using these questions to fire every one of us in this room today that as we think of technical approaches as laid down by the rule makers on the road to HLM3, we must also carry out some introspection on what can possibly work for us as Africans at the political and national levels to shift from the realm of rule takers to rule makers in the business of effective development cooperation.
I thank you.