|H.E Kingsley Mamabolo|
Ambassador and Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of South Africa to the UN
Until his appointment, Mr. Mamabolo was High Commissioner (Ambassador) to Nigeria since 2009. Appointed his country’s Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region in 2006, he was subsequently named Deputy Facilitator of the Burundi peace process. In 2002, Mr. Mamabolo was appointed Special Envoy of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) to Sierra Leone and the Mano River Basin, a position he held for two years. Also in 2002, he was appointed Deputy Director-General for African Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, responsible for the overall coordination and management of bilateral and multilateral relations in Africa. Upon returning from exile in 1994, Mr. Mamabolo joined the Ministry and was immediately appointed democratic South Africa’s first High Commissioner to Zimbabwe, completing his term in 1999. He was then appointed Permanent Representative to the Organization of African Unity and to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), both headquartered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where he was concurrently accredited as Ambassador to Ethiopia, Sudan and Djibouti.
|Africa Solutions to African Problems: Education, Health, Culture, Economy, Culture, Peace & Security||04/ 16/ 2014|
I would like to make some observations on the issues that have been raised previously from Ambassador Ndong. We have a rich history: the question arises why is Africa still behind? That is the question we need to answer. A question, Africa has the responsibility has to answer. And the responsibility that the international community has to answer as well. That is why we are here at the UN negotiating an international framework to ensure we agree as to the way forward addressing development. We need to agree on how to move forward. Then we can begin to recognize and help some of the countries in Africa, who continue to be in terrible situations of poverty critically so. How do we develop that international framework? It is all our responsibility. We need education, governance, transparency, and we agree to all that. Sometimes the international community debates and disagrees on which issues are a priority and the negotiations get really difficult. Discussing governance and transparency then comes into question. Bread and butter issues are the preference. For Africa, all these issues are very important. These issues all come with their challenges that stem ultimately from our colonial past. What would have happened if Africa was left intact, in terms of unity? What would have happened if we had been colonialized such as China where the state remained intact as one? We did not. We became South Africa and so on. We developed different languages, different national anthems, and flags. If we had been left in that sphere, we would’ve been a power to reckon with along with China, and many others that were not colonized as we were.
I know the argument to not keep going back to the past, but what are we doing now? And how are we improving our situation? It is a factor which has made us far behind in development. The topic today is about African problems, and finding its own solutions. It is a notion that symbolizes this paradigm shift, of transforming from a beggar mentality to an outlook that is proactive and self-assured. It is a notion that challenges the leadership of the people of the continent, which is to take ownership of the development challenges that are facing Africa. It is a notion that seeks to instill a drive in us, and to find a home brood. We need answers and solutions to ensure that poverty, industrialization, crowd food production, and disease are developed while simultaneously working on capacity building to ensure the continents’ self-reliance. The Africa program at the level of the UN, is about 2015. We need to be evolving past the 2015 agenda and MDG’s where man can energize countries in particular Africa and others. So we can adequately address issues of development. We have reached an assessment stage asking ourselves if we have we done enough. Future programs that do develop should have a central focus on the eradication of poverty and development of education. We are cautiously moving towards sustainable development as well, but something we do not know very well. The international community is on board with focusing on this issue and we as Africans need to move to this next step and make sure we are not left behind. We must recognize the MDG’s are not enough; we need to add to them. We need to look at issues such as energy, industrialization, technology, which were not well represented in the MDG’s. We need to strength the agreements in 2000’s. So we have strong current agreements and future international frameworks that addresses issues in Africa.
On the economic side, we also need to look at financial aid. Aid is very important. Certain countries in Africa would collapse without that aid. Some countries’ budget depends on that very aid. Yet it is not realistic to think that aid can solve all development problems in Africa. In addition to aid, we need to look at other means to finance and support development programs. In Africa, we rally around our own programs, like napat, and we ask international communities to ensure that napat does succeed. We need to analyze support through foreign direct investment, ICT, transboundary water networks, and how they can boost African growth and trade networks. These are other opportunities that will be useful in the structural transformation of the continent’s economy. These are examples of what we may do outside of what the international community can do. Part of the problem maybe be capacity. Some countries have challenges in collecting taxes. Being efficient in collecting taxes, enables a country to support its own infrastructure, such as in South Africa. The money accumulated from insurance, pension money, can be used to build bridges right across the continent.
Another problem is the illicit flow of capital, which is a huge problem for Africa. Figures are estimated but there is no way to check the accuracy. It is estimated that Africa is losing 50 billion a year, through corruption and other issues. Corruptions on both the national and international scale. For example, multinational companies operating in Africa, often do not declare any company profits. Yet these companies do not collapse, but they thrive. There is a problem here. The problem is that some African countries allow these companies to operate tax free for five years to entice these companies to come and create jobs. After five years, these same companies change their company name to continue operating tax free. As a result, a lot of money is leaving the continent, including from the help of corrupt leaders. The international framework would need to formulate around this illicit flow of capital, and necessitate the cooperation of the national and international community. There are many other issues related to that, but Ambassador Ndong has expanded on them quite well.
Our quest in Africa is to improve and strive for integration both politically and economically. Peace and security continues to be a very important aspect of our development as it relates to conflict resolution. There is also a lot we need to do in terms of education and around health issues such malaria, HIV which continues to be a problem. In DC this August, President Obama will be inviting African presidents, to discuss these issues and how we collaborate with the EU. The international community is both needed and not. As Africans, we need to be accountable to ourselves to ensure we take the initiative. We need to not sit and wait for money to come from outside, but generate our own money as well. We need the commitment of the international community on what is needed to move forward. If you look in history, the Asian tigers, did not simply come out of their dire economic situation. They needed a lot of capital injected into the economy to get them where they are today. Africa needs that as well. This is the time for Africa. We should make sure that when those opportunities come, that we talk about all this progress. We need to highlight the fact that of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world, 6 of those are in Africa. For the past 10 years, these countries in Africa have had a consistent GDP. So we do have good stories to tell about Africa. We need keep that momentum and turn these stories into the rule and not the exceptions. This will continue to be a challenge as even that positive growth is based on natural resources, such as oil and so on. If we are solely basing our growth on that nature, it will not be long lasting. These resources give us an opportunity to finding other avenues for development. It is not the end goal and final option. Who then has the responsibility to ensure Africa does this? It is ourselves along with the international community for support.