Address by the Honourable Peter Kent, Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas), to the 15th African Union Summit

No. 2010/50 - Kampala, Uganda – July 24, 2010

Check Against Delivery

I’d like to begin today by offering Canada’s heartfelt condolences to the government and people of Uganda in the wake of terrorist bombings that rocked Kampala earlier this month.

These attacks were a vile affront to Africa’s spirit of fraternity and ethos of diversity.

Canada stands in solidarity with people throughout the continent and around the world in condemning these acts of terror.

And we will support Uganda as it works with its regional partners to combat this threat so as to protect democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.

Canada offers condolences, as well, on the loss of the two Ugandan African Union (AU) peacekeepers in Somalia, and appreciates the enormous contribution the AU is making in that country.

It is a great pleasure to address you today, ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of the Prime Minister of Canada, the Right Honourable Stephen Harper.

I had the privilege of becoming well acquainted with your incomparable continent during the years I spent here as a journalist.

In the late 1970s, I was sent to Johannesburg by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to establish its first African bureau.

I travelled extensively throughout the continent during that time, reporting on such transformative events as the overthrow of Idi Amin, Rhodesia’s transition to Zimbabwe through the Lancaster House Agreement, and the fall of apartheid and the birth of the Rainbow Nation under the leadership of Nelson Mandela.

On a personal note, it was here in Africa where I had a transformative experience of my own—this is where I met and married my wife Cilla.

Your continent has had a profound effect on me, both professionally and personally, so I am very grateful for the invitation you have extended to me.

Last January, my colleague the Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, stood before this Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee in Addis Ababa and presented Canada’s plans for our presidency of the G-8.

I’d like to take this opportunity today to report on what was accomplished in Muskoka and the developments that have taken place to date.

In addition to the members of the G-8, Canada welcomed leaders from Malawi, the African Union Chairperson, Ethiopia, Chair of this Committee, Algeria, Nigeria, Senegal, and South Africa, as well as the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Jean Ping, to the Summit.

Having this strong African contingent at the table in Muskoka was essential to ensuring that the best policies possible were developed for the broader international community.

In the case of one issue in particular, a way forward simply wouldn’t have been possible without the participation of the African leaders—the high rate of maternal mortality in childbirth, and of mortality in children under the age of five.

The numbers, as noted by my colleague, the Honourable Beverly Oda, Minister of International Cooperation, represent both personal tragedies and the tragedies of lost possibilities.

In order to address the stark realities of Millennium Development Goals Four and Five, our government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, decided to place maternal and child health at the forefront of the G-8 Summit.

The Muskoka Initiative on Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health, which was endorsed by G-8 countries and welcomed by African leaders and other partners, was the signature initiative of the Summit.

I am pleased to report that the resources mobilized for this initiative from G-8 countries, non-G-8 countries, and foundations is in excess of $7.3 billion, and we fully anticipate that this initiative will mobilize significantly more than $10 billion over the period 2010–2015.

Canada’s commitment to this initiative will be $1.1 billion in new funding, 80 percent of which will go to sub-Saharan Africa.

We believe that this initiative makes a key contribution to the United Nations Secretary-General’s Joint Action Plan to Improve Women’s and Children’s Health, to be presented at the United Nations High-Level Meeting on the Millennium Development Goals in September 2010, and contributes as well to the work of the AU’s Campaign for Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality.

As the foremost regional institution on the continent, the African Union’s leadership on this issue is invaluable.

The AU’s endorsement of G-8 actions toward the achievement of Millennium Development Goals Four and Five would serve to add salience to their importance.

By working together, we will be able to make progress toward our ultimate goal—to ensure that no woman dies while giving life, and that no newborn or child is lost for want of relatively simple, inexpensive measures.

I’d also like to briefly touch on two other issues addressed by leaders in Muskoka, security and accountability.

In our increasingly globalized world, a regional security challenge can quickly transform into an international menace.

The Peace and Security discussion began with a discussion of threats facing Africa, including the impact of Small Arms and Light Weapons.

A second portion, which included the leaders of Colombia, Jamaica, and Haiti, focused on the threat posed by the growing linkages between terrorists and organized crime, particularly drug traffickers.

This insightful exchange prompted G-8 leaders to direct their ministers to consult with partners from Africa, the Americas, and elsewhere on what additional steps can be taken.

I would like to commend the African Union for its Plan of Action for Drug Control and Crime Prevention, launched in January 2008, and reaffirm the Government of Canada’s commitment to work with all willing partners to combat this global problem.

On the issue of accountability, leaders agreed that a transparent regime that measures successes and failures alike is a necessity for progress.

The G-8 Accountability Report, which was presented to AU partners prior to the Muskoka Summit, provides a frank account of the delivery of commitments in a number of areas, including aid and aid effectiveness, economic development, health, water and sanitation, food security, education, governance, peace and security, and environment and energy.

Several G-8 members have met or exceeded their commitment to double aid to Africa; those that have not remain committed to attaining this goal.

Canada is proud to have met its commitment to double aid to Africa, and is also following through on its commitment to implement the L’Aquila accord on food security, to which Canada has committed $600 million in new funds.

I am pleased to inform you that it is the G-8’s intent to report regularly on our collective commitments.

In 2011, the focus of our accountability reporting will be Health and Food Security.

G-8 partners look forward to seeing Africa’s own report, as mandated at the last African Union Summit, on Africa’s implementation of its commitments.

We are confident that these complementary initiatives will jointly provide a strong basis for future G-8-Africa discussion among Leaders, building on our pillar of mutual accountability.

The economy and climate change, topics of great interest and concern to both the G-8 and Africa, were discussed at the subsequent G-20 Summit in Toronto.

As no conversation about global economic growth and recovery should take place without Africa, Canada was pleased to welcome to Toronto, in addition to South Africa, Malawi, as African Union Chair, and Ethiopia, the Chair of this Committee.

Recently, at the July 21-22 G-20 Sherpa Meeting in Seoul, Canada championed, as a next step, a proposal that the AU and NEPAD be invited to participate in a new G-20 Development Working Group charged with designing an innovation approach to cooperate with developing countries in time for the November G-20 Summit.

Although only partial success was achieved at the meeting due to the reluctance of some, Canada will continue to work for greater inclusion of Africa in the G-20.

The Toronto G-20 Summit discussed issues of great importance to Africa, including the historic Multilateral Development Bank replenishment, through $350 billion in capital increases, as per the Pittsburgh G-20 Summit commitment.

To note, in September 2009, Canada announced it would make $2.8billion in temporary callable capital available to the African Development Bank.

While the G-20 plays a vitally important role with respect to global economics, the G-8 continues to have a vitally important role alongside it.

The G-8’s long-standing commitment to Africa cannot simply be transferred to the G-20. Dating back to the 2001 Genoa G-8 Summit, the G-8 has maintained a special relationship with Africa.

Given its broader composition, it is difficult to envisage the G-20 undertaking a privileged partnership with any particular region.

Africa stands to gain if a strong G-8 continues to operate alongside a strong G-20.

These are truly exciting times for Africa, ladies and gentlemen.

We’re seeing the emergence of a “new Africa,” one that is making great strides in improving living standards at home, while beaming with ever greater confidence on the world stage.

Across the continent, young entrepreneurs and a growing middle class are working to transform their economies.

Governments are implementing more business-friendly reforms.

And the world is paying attention.

Foreign investors are flocking to the continent.

Africa received two times more foreign investment than foreign aid last year.

The African Development Bank is predicting 4.5 percent growth for African countries this year, and more than 5 percent growth next year.

Indeed, our relationships with Africa are about more than aid.

They are partnerships built around shared interests and shared prosperity.

As a signal of our optimism about Africa’s future, the Government of Canada recently announced a major contribution to the Next Einstein Initiative, which will create a network of 15 centres of academic excellence across Africa in fields related to science and technology.

Ladies and gentlemen, our hope for the continent is summarized in the words of Dr. Neil Turok, the founder of the Next Einstein Initiative:

“Just think what will happen if Africa does for science what it has done for music, for literature and for art. Not only Africa, but the world, could be transformed.”

Thank you.