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21 JANUARY 2022 at 10:00AM

Mr. President of the General Assembly,

Mr. Secretary General,

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. On behalf of the African Group, I have the honor to offer these remarks on the Secretary General’s priorities for 2022 and the work of the organization.

2. The Secretary General has called for recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic to be the overarching aim of this year. The African Group concurs, and will support all fair, ambitious and practical efforts undertaken to design and deliver this healing.

3. Africa is experiencing its worst economic recession in 25 years, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The economic numbers should not hide their meaning. Millions of jobs have been lost. Hope for a better tomorrow has dimmed. The effects are tearing at the social and political fabric that needs strengthening if we are to achieve peace throughout our continent.

4. Recovery for Africa will therefore mean stronger and more shared economic growth. A critical input to achieving it is a surge in affordable and accessible financing in 2022, and in the coming years. Growth, the production of goods and services, and the resulting jobs, are the surest solutions and enablers to solving a host of threats and crises we are experiencing.

5. We urge the Secretary General in his advocacy for recovery to put sustainable development at the heart of our conversation and actions.

6. We left COP-26 in Glasgow with the commitments from Paris not met. What we heard from many leaders of the countries most responsible for climate change differed radically from their delegations negotiating positions. Trust was weak before Glasgow; it became even more feeble after.

7. We urge those states in 2022 to reconsider their positions on climate change adaptation and energy justice for Africa or risk the eventual unraveling of the global response.

8. Many of us in this hall recall the energy and time our delegations poured into crafting and agreeing the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda. Let 2022 be a year that recovers our finest selves when we made those commitments for transformative global change.

9. It will need to be a year in which Africa accesses affordable and sufficient funding to strengthen economic production and basic services delivered by competent governments. This will require grant financing and also concerted efforts to lower the risk premiums being demanded of African borrowers that are sharply out of keeping with the actual risk.

10. It should also be the year when the United Nations undertakes every effort to assist Africa achieve the rich promise of the African Continental Free Trade Area.

11. The UN’s development system must lead the way. In providing the thought leadership, analytics, and networking the public and private sectors to deliver the required surge of financing.

12. Recovery means more cooperation and collaboration in facing the COVID-19 pandemic. There will be no recovery for the millions of Africans who are impacted by unscientific and discriminatory travel bans that lay havoc on entire economic sectors. We insist that it is critical for global public health security and economic relations for science to lead the way in informing how countries and regional organisations respond to this disease.

13. COVID-19 has shown, like few other crises in living memory, that unless all of us are safe, none of us truly is. It has strengthened our determination to achieve Universal Health Coverage or at least accessible primary care for all our citizens. Here again we need the funding yielded by tax revenues from growing economies.

14. In 2022, illicit financial flows from Africa must be combatted. States should receive every assistance to grow their tax collection, and to have in place appropriate planning and implementation systems. There are many low-hanging fruit that the United Nations can pluck in cooperation with African states.

15. As you know, the availability, accessibility, and affordability of the COVID-19 vaccines remains a priority for the African Group. Recovery this year means assisting African countries to access vaccines, and the technologies and capabilities to produce them. It means re-considering Intellectual Property protections in light of this dire emergency.

16. All priorities implemented in 2022 should lead to fewer Africans being killed by the affiliates of international terrorist groups operating in Africa. The United Nations loses its reason for being if it cannot help deliver peace. Recovery this year demands a more robust effort to Silence the Guns, and predictable financing for African regional forces assisting to suppress terrorist groups, particularly in the Sahel, and parts of East and Southern Africa.

Mr. Secretary General,

17. You are passionate about assuring that we all need multilateralism to be effective. We could not agree more. No matter how wealthy or secure your state, there will come the emergency, of one kind or the other, that will prompt you to seek relief in our multilateral instruments. On that occasion, you will benefit only if there is a wellspring of trust underpinning the multilateral system.

18. That trust operates like an insurance policy. We pay premiums of trust for years before we need to collect against emergency injury. Unfortunately, too many of us have given up on paying this premium.

19. Today it may appear that it is Africa suffering the effects of a two-lane, faltering multilateralism, but the world is complex enough that we all face known and unseen dangers.

20. Let us start paying those premiums in 2022 as we undertake the negotiations and work that deliver peace and stability, food security, agriculture and blue economy development, structural transformation of poor economies, and the delivery of just and equitable climate change action.

Mr. Secretary General,

21. In conclusion, we welcome the measures adopted by the UN to maintain gender parity among senior management and to enhance equitable geographical representation. The Group welcomes the Secretary-General’s internal administrative instructions and other guiding materials aimed at sensitising all UN staff on the importance of combating discrimination, all forms of harassment and abuse of authority. In 2022, we look forward to this leading to equitable geographical representation at all levels of management within the UN system. We also anticipate more rigorous measures to detect, deter and eliminate racism, as well as any other forms of intolerance, across the UN system.

I thank you.

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