In March this year, Africa’s leaders launched the African Continental Free Trade Area. Representing one of the largest markets in the world, with 1.2 billion consumers, the Free Trade Area can boost regional integration, drive economic growth, generate jobs for young Africans, alleviate poverty and lead to more stable and peaceful societies.
This is just the latest example of achievement under the umbrella of the African Union – formerly the Organisation of African Unity – which marks its 55th anniversary this year. Across Africa, entrepreneurship is up, access to education has increased and child mortality has declined. More women are serving in parliaments, and economic growth in several countries is greater than in other parts of the world.
Africa is increasingly driving its own future. The guiding vision for Africa’s development is the African Union’s Agenda 2063. Fully complementary to the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Agenda 2063 provides a foundation for resilience and social and economic progress for the entire continent. The United Nations is fully committed to supporting Africa’s efforts. To that end, the two organizations have in the past year signed frameworks on peace and security and on the coherent implementation of Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda.
Peace and sustainable development are two sides of the same coin – one cannot be achieved without the other. To promote peace, the United Nations will continue to support prevention. We must collectively strengthen our ability to detect and defuse crises before they escalate and sharpen our tools for addressing their causes. The United Nations will also work to support the African Union’s commitment to “Silence the Guns” by 2020 and promote the indispensable role of women and youth in conflict prevention and peace building.
On this Africa Day, I urge all nations to support a peaceful, prosperous Africa. What is good for Africa is good for the world.