The region has made impressive economic and social progress in recent decades. Since the 1990s, per-capita income has increased by around 50%. Most countries have moved from low-income to upper middle-income, while some grew from middle to high income.
This meeting marks another milestone in the close co-operation and solidarity that have long defined relations between Africa and the OECD. With the arrival of Rwanda and Togo, 11 African countries today make up one-fifth of the Development Centre’s membership.
The adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2015, with its 17 goals and 169 targets, was a landmark achievement. It seems even more impressive today, when multilateral co-operation is being challenged and when it would have been practically impossible to achieve the necessary consensus.
At that time, many emerging market economies were experiencing full-blown crises while most advanced economies were doing relatively well. Ten years later, almost all OECD countries went into recession together, with many facing financial crises as well, while China and India barely missed a step in their rapid growth.
This is a special year for the 2030 Agenda. In September, for the first time since the adoption of the SDGs, leaders will gather in New York for a comprehensive stock-taking exercise of global progress achieved this far. This will be a crucial exercise in helping us to reinvigorate our efforts, identify shortfalls and correct our course for the SDGs where we are not on track.
More than 500 stakeholders in the field of sustainable development – from Ministers, to CEOs, to representatives from philanthropy; from civil society, to think-tanks and Development Finance Institutions – have come together to demonstrate a shared commitment to putting “impact” at the heart of financing for sustainable development.
Sustainable economic and social development are central to peace, and to the prosperity of current and future generations. The landmark UN agreements on the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals, and the Paris Climate Agreement provide us with aspirational frameworks to work towards these goals, but we still have a long way to go to deliver on the promise of leaving no one behind.
What we will be focusing on today is precisely how we can design the policies which will lead to inclusion and ensure that everyone – families, farmers and businesses – reaps the benefits of Africa’s integration.
Quality infrastructure underpins virtually every policy area. It forms the links that bind our interconnected economies and societies together, enabling goods, services, energy, data, communications and people to move easily. Connecting Africa through world-class infrastructure is critical for its growth, its development, its intraregional integration and its integration into the world.