‘Africa is clearly a continent on the rise. Six of the ten fastest-growing economies in the world are in Africa. Real income has risen by 30% in the last ten years’.‘Foreign Direct Investment has risen to about $64 billion, while remittances have reached $56 billion, exceeding total official development assistance’.
The former President noted that, while economic growth is taking place in Africa, the continent continues to be associated with low performance on most indicators in education, health and food and nutrition security.
He stated that the continent is noted for poorly developed and maintained infrastructure, poor leadership and governance, adding that, ’this shows that we still have a long way to go to build the Africa We Want”.
Obasanjo while welcoming, President Romano Prodi, who was the keynote speaker, noted that, as President of the European Commission he steered the programmes and projects of the Commission to support Africa’s development.
‘We are excited to have a true friend of Africa, in the spirit of partnership, a pillar on which APG is built to accept to give the keynote address at this inauguration’. It is also worth recalling that the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon selected Professor Prodi as President of the African Union-United Nations peacekeeping panel. ‘He also served as the United Nations Special Envoy for the Sahel. President Prodi and I have been working together on the project of replenishing the water of Lake Chad for some time.
Obasanjo told the gathering that, in a book of which he’s a co-author, “Making Africa Work: A Handbook for Economic Success”, some far-reaching recommendations provided which, if implemented, ‘can hasten our march to attain the Africa we want.
‘This pursuit of the “Africa We Want” is one of the main reasons we are inaugurating the Africa Progress Group (APG) today. On December 4, 2017, after ten years of successful and impressive impact, the Africa Progress Panel (APP), chaired by Kofi Annan and hosted in Geneva by the Kofi Annan Foundation, transited to the Africa Progress Group (APG) which I now chair.
He explained that Prof Dr. Peter Eigen of Humboldt-Viardina Governance Platform, Germany, and initiator of Transparency International with him (Obasanjo) as its first Advisory Council Chair, is the Co-Chair of the Group.
The former President said, Africa Progress Group (APG) is made up of eminent former and serving political, public and private sector leaders from Africa and friends of Africa from across the world.
‘During the period of APP’s existence, the Panel focused on the implementation of Africa’s commitments as set out in the Constitutive Act of the African Union (AU) and other landmark international agreements and programmes’.
‘The Panel built coalitions to leverage and broker knowledge and to convene decision-makers to create change in Africa. With its final report which is primarily a call to action, it presents a bold agenda for Africa’s progress to be taken forward to accelerate Africa’s transformation’.
‘Let me conclude by recalling the words of Kofi Annan, “…Good governance is the single most important factor in eradicating poverty and promoting development.”
‘Together, let us advance Africa’s interest. Let us develop strong partnerships to support Africa’s vision to accelerate its development. By strengthening our partnership, we will harness the vast opportunities in the continent so that its transformation will be accelerated for the benefit of all.