Before I begin I want to take this opportunity
to thank Under Secretary General, Maged Abdelaziz, and the Office of
the Special Advisor on Africa for their commitment to promoting
international support for peace and development in Africa.
Churchill once said: “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every
opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
one would argue that the countries of Africa have had more than their
fair share of difficulties. Despite their many challenges, the continent
is rich in talent, energy and hope – the building blocks needed to
unlock the continent’s vast potential.
My understanding of
Africa does not come from Hollywood movies or stories in National
Geographic. I speak from personal experience. As a young child living in
what was then Tanganyika, I recall the warmth and sense of community of
the African people. I also vividly remember the feeling of excitement
that followed when nations earned their independence.
1950s and 1960s, dozens of African countries pulled down the flags of
their colonial powers and raised their own. Since then, nation after
nation has begun the difficult transition from war towards peace, from
dictatorship towards democracy, and from poverty towards economic
We are here today to
discuss the progress in Africa’s development. NEPAD is an initiative led
by Africans for Africa. It provides unique opportunities for African
countries to take control of their development agenda, to work together,
and to cooperate more effectively with their international partners.
Zululand to Yorubaland and from the Nile River to the Niger River,
NEPAD is helping to advance Africa’s common goals. You could say that
NEPAD is the launching pad for Africa in the new millennium.
nations and people of Africa have made tremendous progress on the path
towards greater prosperity. Yet for all the promise and opportunity on
the horizon, there are still daunting challenges including extreme
poverty, drought, famine, conflict, and gender disparity.
Burkina Faso, the average working day for men is 8.5 hours, but for
women it is 14 hours. In Gabon, women perform 95 percent of farm work
and usually work 15 hours of day. In contrast, even during peak
agricultural periods, men spend only about 2 or 3 hours a day on
agriculture. Studies show that if African women were given the same
access as men to vocational training and technology, the Africa’s
economy would expand by at least 40 percent. This is a staggering figure
– and one that cannot be ignored.
It goes without saying that
the African nations have primary responsibility for their social and
economic development. But the international community must do all it can
to support their efforts.
earliest days, Israel was a fledgling state barely able to provide for
its own. It was surrounded by enemies and struggled to cope with the
absorption of hundreds of thousands of refugees.
then-Foreign Minister, Golda Meir, travelled to the African content and
saw the many challenges shared between the African nations and Israel.
She said (and I quote), “Like them, we had shaken off foreign rule; like
them, we had to learn for ourselves how to reclaim the land, how to
increase the yields of our crops, how to irrigate, how to live together,
and how to defend ourselves.”
Driven by the Jewish value of tikkun olam
- the obligation of every person to play a part in making this world a
better place - we launched an ambitious program to share our
nation-building knowledge with the newborn countries of Africa.
Today, Israel is an oasis of innovation in an otherwise arid region. We have more startup companies
than many of the world’s wealthiest countries. Our doctors and researchers have made medical breakthroughs
that have saved countless lives. We lead the world in green technologies like solar power
. And our scientists have found innovative ways to vastly expand the yield and quality of crops
Israel has been eager to share the secrets of its success with the rest of the world. Through MASHAV, Israel’s Agency for International Cooperation
, we are sharing our innovative solutions with countries throughout Africa
and around the world
Israelis are helping save lives through organizations like Save a Child’s Heart
that provides pediatric cardiac care to children from developing
countries who suffer from heart disease. This organization has helped
thousands of children around the world including from Ethiopia,
Tanzania, Nigeria, Ghana and Angola.
An Israeli irrigation
company introduced low-pressure, low-cost drip irrigation systems for
subsistence farmers, providing them with enough water to raise crops
year round. In the Kenyan village of Kitui, farmers began using this
system instead of hauling water from wells. They saw a 140 percent
increase in harvested yield and a 200 percent increase in income.
scientists are also helping overcome many of the most pressing problems
faced by African farmers. After discovering that 50 percent of every
grain and pulse harvest in the developing world is lost to pests and
mold, Israeli researchers designed inexpensive bags that protect crops
from water and air. These bags are being used by countless African
farmers to keep their grain market-fresh.
is an African proverb that says, “If you want to go quickly, go alone.
If you want to go far, go together.” This is what NEPAD is about -
Africans forging Africa's future, together.
A new wave of
optimism is sweeping through the plains, mountains and savannahs of
Africa. But in order for this optimism to take hold, every child and
every family and every community must have the opportunity to build a
So let us pledge to empower the people of
Africa. Let us commit to ensuring they have equal opportunities. And let
us strive to ensure a brighter future for all of Africa’s people. As
musical superstar Shakira says in her song, “This time for Africa”:
Today’s your day
I feel it
You paved the way
This time for Africa!
Thank you Madam President.