Helen Clark: Remarks at side event on accelerating MDG achievement

22 Sep 2010

Helen Clark UNDP Administrator

Remarks For the Side Event on “Inclusive Growth and Employment in Africa- accelerating the achievement of the MDGs”

Wednesday, 22 September 2010, 9:30am

New York

Introductory remarks as moderator of the event:

• Welcome to this event on “Inclusive Growth and Employment Generation in Africa- accelerating the achievement of the MDGs”.

• Thanks to the Governments of Denmark, Liberia and Tanzania for co-organizing this important event today on the margins of the MDG Summit.

• The purpose of the MDG Summit, and indeed the many side events like this taking place over the next few days, is to generate momentum for accelerating progress on the MDGs.

• A decade after the MDGs were launched, the focused effort to achieve them has got results – although progress has been uneven across the goals, and across and within regions and nations.

• Africa itself has tremendous development potential, as the Africa Commission established by the Danish Government recognized in its report. Indeed, Africa is part of finding solutions to many of the world’s problems, including in recovery from the global recession.  According to the IMF, Sub-Saharan Africa is projected to be the second fastest growing region in the world this year and next. 

• But good growth rates in many African countries for the decade to 2008 or so did not always translate into reductions in poverty.

• This causes us to look beyond merely attaining high growth rates to looking at where the growth is and whether it expands opportunities for the many, not the few.

• This morning’s event focuses on identifying experiences and policies which are positive for accelerating progress on the MDGs in Africa.

• We have six eminent panellists to start our discussion on inclusive growth and employment in Africa.

They are :

  • H.E. Mr. Lars Løkke Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark and Chairman of the Danish-initiated Africa Commission;

  • H.E. Ms Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, President of Liberia;

  • H.E. Mr. Mizengo K. Peter Pinda, Prime Minister of the United Republic of Tanzania;

  • Dr. Donald Kaberuka, President of the African Development Bank;

  • Dr. Mo Ibrahim, African entrepreneur and Chairman of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation; and

  • María Angélica Ducci, Executive Director of the Office of the Director-General, ILO


• In preparing for the MDG Summit, UNDP prepared an International Assessment of what it will take to achieve the MDGs. It outlined eight cross-cutting areas where action was needed to accelerate progress.

• Prominent among them was the need to foster more inclusive models of economic growth which could deliver poverty reduction and human development progress. 

• With generous support from the Government of Denmark, UNDP is now working on a more detailed paper on what is needed to promote inclusive growth and to accelerate MDG progress in Africa.

• While the report is yet to be finalised, the following themes are coming through :

• First, macroeconomic policies need to support long-term growth in real output and employment.

That means creating a supportive environment for productive enterprises.

At the global level, a trade deal which works for poor people and poor countries will be enormously helpful too.

• Second, improving agricultural productivity is critical. 

To be more productive, farmers need access to quality fertilizers, seeds, extension services, and credit. They need secure land tenure, better access to markets, and improvements in local infrastructure.

In Zambia, it is estimated that expanding irrigated commercial agriculture has the potential to generate two full-time jobs per hectare in coffee production, two in local horticulture, and as many as 25 in floriculture.

In Tanzania, the Government’s recent initiative to promote agriculture through the Kilimo Kwanza programme could play a vital role in revitalizing agriculture and reducing poverty.

• Third, policies need to actively support job creation and the development of a skilled workforce.

There is an explicit MDG target on achieving full and productive employment and decent work for all.

Further, the Global Jobs Pact, developed by the ILO, calls for jobs to be put at the very centre of responses to the economic crisis.

In many countries, well-designed public employment programmes have been successful in generating jobs, making growth more inclusive, and reducing poverty and inequality.

Ghana’s National Youth Employment Programme, for example, provides employment and job training for over 100,000 young people who joined the police, health and education workforces.

The importance of education and skills training was highlighted in the Africa Commission’s report issued last year on: “Realising the Potential of Africa’s Youth”.

Job opportunities for young people are especially important in post-conflict countries.

• Fourth, particular attention needs to be paid to increasing access to affordable and reliable modern energy services, without which businesses from the micro to the multinational can’t thrive. 

• In summary, Africa’s experience over the past decade teaches us an important lesson: in order to achieve the MDGs, economies need not only grow, but that growth needs to be inclusive.