Address by Minister Cannon to the New Partnership for Africa’s Development Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee

No. 2010/4 - Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - January 30, 2010

Check Against Delivery

Let me first express my condolences to the government and people of Ethiopia for the air tragedy of earlier this week.

Mr. Chairperson, thank you for allowing me to speak here this morning and for giving me the opportunity to share with you Canada’s perspective as we seek to respond to pressing global challenges.

This is an important year for Canada. We are proud to be hosting both the G8 and G20 summits in June.

You might hear some say that Canada doesn’t understand African issues, yet Canada has been assisting and working with African countries for well over half a century. And Canada has been present in Africa through our missionaries for a century. We understand Africa and the countries that make up this continent.

Canada is also very conscious of other events of grave concern, such as the recent earthquake in Haiti. At the beginning of this week, I chaired the Ministerial Preparatory Conference for the reconstruction of Haiti in Montreal. On a per capita basis, Canada is the country that has contributed, and will continue to contribute, the most assistance to Haiti.

Canada’s G8 priority: maternal and child health

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the focus of the G8 agenda. It will be on two issues: development, and peace and security. Both are directly relevant to Africa.

In planning the development content, we are very conscious of 2010 being a key year in the pursuit of the UN Millennium Development Goals, with a major review conference to take place in New York in September.

As president of the G8 in 2010, Canada will champion a major initiative to improve the health of women and young children in the world’s most vulnerable regions. Members of the G8 can make a tangible difference in maternal and child health—a Millennium Development Goal of immediate relevance to Africa, of which the attainment is especially at risk.

We are concerned about the staggering rates of under-five child mortality, which are far too high. And we are equally concerned about the shocking rates of maternal mortality. We are convinced that it is possible to prevent many of these deaths.

The G8 can make a substantial difference in responding to these challenges. We will be making this a top priority of our G8 Muskoka Summit.

We will look to mobilize G8 and partner governments, non-governmental organizations and private foundations to set a global agenda and lead an ambitious plan. Our objective will be to focus political will and to generate new financial resources to address the challenge.

Canada has delivered on its commitment to double aid to Africa from 2003-04 to 2008-09, when it reached $2.1 billion. We are on target to double our aid overall from 2003-04 to 2009-10.

In addition, we have fully untied our food aid and are on track to untie our overall aid by 2012. We are committed to the implementation of the L’Aquila accord on food security, to which Canada has contributed $600 million in new funds.

The G8 Summit and peace and security

Development is one pillar for the G8; peace and security is the other. The G8 will also focus on critically important peace and security challenges at the Muskoka Summit.

One such issue we will address—one of particular relevance to Africa—relates to helping vulnerable states and regions further build their capacities to address challenges to peace and security, to strengthen related institutions, to prevent violent conflict, and to better mobilize civilian and military capacity in support of peace.

Indeed, G8 partners’ engagement with the African Union and with sub-regional bodies in Africa in support of peace has been an especially important element of the G8-Africa partnership.

For Canada, this is a natural area in which to focus G8 efforts:

  • We have participated in the majority of UN peace support operations in Africa.
  • We participate actively in African-led peace processes, such as in the Great Lakes.
  • We are active partners of the AU, for example, in supporting the AU’s engagement in Sudan, where my government has invested more than $675 million since January 2006.
  • And finally, we are actively engaged in African peace and security issues at the UN, for example, as chair of the Peacebuilding Commission’s Sierra Leone configuration.

The G20 Summit

The back-to-back G8 and G20 summits we host in June will have completely separate agendas, but we view the G8 and G20 as complementary institutions.

We fully support the conclusion that emerged from the Pittsburgh Summit that the G20 has now clearly emerged as the world’s premier forum for fiscal and economic cooperation. The G20 is delivering on commitments made.

The G20’s actions were instrumental in injecting confidence and mitigating the effects of the economic crisis.

Yet, we are not out of the woods, and much work remains to fully implement the commitments made in previous G20 summits. We are approaching our G20 Summit with focus in mind, so that commitments made are commitments delivered.

Temporary callable capital increase to African Development Bank

The global financial crisis affected African countries in varied and far-reaching ways, of which one was the drying up of external financing.

Consequently, there was a significantly higher demand for the African Development Bank’s resources. As a result, the Bank expected to face a funding shortfall in 2010 of about US$3 billion. In response, Canada temporarily tripled its shares at the Bank through callable capital to provide relief until permanent resources are found to meet growing demand.

Canada was the first country to respond to the critical needs of regional development banks in this innovative way.

The Canadian response recognizes the efforts by the African Development Bank to ensure that it has sufficient resources with which to quickly address the demands of its borrowing members, while the Bank continues its poverty reduction efforts.

These initiatives are consistent with our G20 commitment to boost funding to global financial institutions in order to support growth in emerging markets and developing countries.

Canada continues to play an active role in ongoing discussions at the Bank to reinforce its capital base for the longer term as it meets the growing demand in Africa.

Outreach with Africa

Canada considers its engagement with Africa to be very important, and we view both the African Union and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development as essential partners.

Thank you.