Helen Clark: “Transformation for Quality Growth in Africa – Mutual Learning for Inclusiveness”

Mar 8, 2013

Opening Intervention for the UNDP Administrator, Helen Clark at the TICAD Special Seminar
 “Transformation for Quality Growth in Africa –
Mutual Learning for Inclusiveness”
The Ambassadors River View, UN, New York
Friday, 8 March 2013, 11:30am

I am very pleased to join this TICAD Special Seminar on achieving transformation for quality growth in Africa.

UNDP is proud to be a co-organiser of TICAD with Japan and other partners.  From its inception in 1993, the TICAD process has been a convenor of government leaders, development partners, and an increasingly wide range of African stakeholders beyond governments to agree on measures to jump start, sustain, and transform growth.

The subtitle of this Seminar, “Mutual Learning for Inclusiveness”, speaks to the very purpose of TICAD itself: through dialogue and the action which has followed, TICAD has supported countries in Africa to boost growth and opportunity for its peoples.  

Through UNDP’s work in Africa, including that supported by Japan through  TICAD, UNDP sees how rapid growth and human development gains are improving the lives and prospects for many people.  A challenge now is to ensure that who have not benefited from the overall progress to date will also be able to participate in the gains the continent and its countries are making.   

To achieve that, the quality of growth needs to improve, along with the utilisation of resources flowing from it. UNDP is committed to supporting the development of strategies and approaches which will make growth more inclusive and sustainable.

The link between economic growth and poverty reduction is not automatic. Even in the fastest growing economies, growth is not always translated into poverty reduction. Rates of extreme poverty in Africa are being reduced at a slower pace than has happened in other developing regions which have experienced comparable growth rates in the past.

The effectiveness of growth in reducing poverty is hampered where there is high and persistent inequality, and where growth is generating too few jobs and too little revenue for allocation to broader development.

To generate decent work for the growing numbers of people entering the labour force, countries need to broaden the sources of their   growth, and work to make it job rich.

Investments in critical infrastructure; health, education, and skills; and in capable institutions are important in making this shift. Africa has many assets on which to draw -  its youthful labour force – with the potential for a demographic dividend if there is investment in its potential; new technologies, particularly the potential of ICT to drive innovation and productivity; and still, for many, the  concerted support of development partners.

For growth to be inclusive and pro-poor, it also needs to  be generated where the poor are earning their livelihoods. In Africa, that highlights the need for investment in  agriculture and rural development. It was through such investments that Asia made inroads in reducing extreme poverty in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Given Japan’s already important role in supporting agricultural development, including through South-South and triangular co-operation, agriculture can be an important  focus for TICAD V.

Initiatives to empower and include women and excluded groups will be vital in making growth inclusive.  Tapping the full potential of half the population reaps huge gains not only for women, but for whole nations. This is true for agriculture as for all sectors.

Making growth sustainable also requires environmental degradation to be tackled and support for adaptation to climate change. Effective governance for development and peace and social cohesion are also important platforms for  transformation.

I have no doubt that TICAD will continue to be an important catalyst in supporting Africa’s ongoing transformation, and look forward to being at TICAD V in Yokohama in June.

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