Helen Clark: Speech at the Inauguration of the UNDP Regional Service Center in Addis Ababa

May 28, 2013

Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator
Speech at the Inauguration of the
UNDP Regional Service Centre
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
3 p.m., Tuesday 28 May, 2013


Over the past few days, I have had the privilege of attending the celebrations marking fifty years since the formation of the Organization of African Unity. I take this opportunity to congratulate His Excellency, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, on his election as Chairman of today’s African Union.

We saw at this anniversary summit the determination of African leaders to confront the development challenges facing the continent and set Africa on a path of sustainable and inclusive development. Some have called this “Africa’s development decade”, heralding a new era of hope and prosperity for its people. Africa is poised for transformation. This is the time to write the story of Africa anew.

UNDP stands with Africa on its journey. For more than forty years, UNDP, the lead development organization of the United Nations, has worked on the continent. We are resolute in our determination to accompany Africa in its quest for equitable, inclusive, and sustainable development. The Centre we are inaugurating today demonstrates our belief in, and commitment to, Africa’s transformation, and our desire to work in close partnership with the African Union.

UNDP recognizes the special role of Ethiopia and its capital, Addis Ababa, in the new emerging Africa.  Ethiopia has boldly confronted daunting development challenges. It has achieved remarkable rates of economic growth and human development over the last 10 years. Economic growth averaged nine per cent annually between 2004 and 2012, and there was a significant reduction in the number of Ethiopians living in extreme poverty - from 38 per cent in 2004 to 29 per cent in 2011. Ethiopia’s adoption of its low carbon Climate Resilient Green Economy Strategy marks this country out as a pacesetter in sustainable development.

Addis Ababa has become the continent’s capital: the place where African and global leaders meet. As host of the African Union it is the hub for global and regional discussions about Africa’s development. It has also long housed the UN’s Economic Commission for Africa.

These are all reasons why UNDP has decided to relocate its Regional Service Centre for Africa here. It needs to be at the epicenter of regional development discussions and policy making at the highest level. Partnerships with regional institutions are essential to our work.
This Regional Service Centre exists to support the work and partnerships of the 46 Country Offices supervised by UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Africa. It offers strategic policy and programme advice based on UNDP’s African and global expertise and experience.

This revitalised Centre should strengthen existing partnerships and form new ones. It should deepen its collaboration with Africa’s political and academic institutions. It is a central pillar of UNDP’s work as a world class, knowledge-based organization.

In these new premises, we are establishing an office which meets or exceeds our corporate norms for security, information and communications technology, efficiency, and environmental sustainability.  This reflects UNDP’s positioning as a forward-looking, 21st century development organization.

I express my sincere gratitude and appreciation to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia and his government for their steadfast support to UNDP as we have worked to establish the Regional Service Centre here. Your commitment to secure these premises and make them available to us rent-free; the flexible and able assistance we have had from your Ministries, Departments, and Agencies; and the support we continue to receive, notably from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (MOFED) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), have made this inauguration ceremony possible today.  

We must now complete the relocation of our operations from Dakar and Johannesburg. I know we can count on Ethiopia’s hospitality, enquan dehna metachu, to ease the transition of the significant number of international professionals and their families who will be settling in Addis Ababa over the coming weeks.

Sitting with us on this podium is a gentleman who is very familiar to you, Prime Minister, and to many in your government. For many years Tegegnework Gettu, a proud son of Ethiopia, has served UNDP, and for the past four years he has been the Director of our Regional Bureau for Africa.
Tege is an exceptional leader, exhibiting at all times tremendous energy, drive, dedication, and commitment to the values of the UN and UNDP. We congratulate Tege on the new higher position he will shortly assume, as UN Under-Secretary-General for General Assembly and Conference Management in New York. This promotion is richly deserved.

To all Ethiopian colleagues and friends, thank you for the strong support you give UNDP. I look forward to this new Centre here in Addis Ababa being recognized for the contribution it makes to African development and for its commitment to partnership with all who share our commitment to poverty eradication and sustainable development.

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