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World Government Summit Explores Future Opportunities in Africa

09 December 2020


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World Government Summit in collaboration with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the African Union – African Peer Review Mechanism (AU-APRM), held the Africa Futures Forum, aiming to share successful experiences, strategies, and outline visions for the future.

The high-level forum featured keynote speeches, ministerial roundtable, and interactive sessions where participants including ministers from UAE and 6 African countries, deliberated on priority areas for contributing to the AU’s Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals 2030.

The speakers also discussed key priorities in developing advanced government models to tackle the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and initiatives to realize national, regional, and global aspirations.

The forum hosted H.E. Mohammad Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs in the UAE and Chairman of the World Government Summit Organization,  H.E. Ohood bint Khalfan Al Roumi, Minister of State for Government Development and the Future in the UAE and Vice Chair of the World Government Summit Organization; H.E. Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, Minister of State for Food and Water Security; H.E. Dr. Uzziel Ndagijimana, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning in Rwanda; H.E. Dr. Francis Kai-Kai, Minister of Planning and Economic Development in Sierra Leone, H.E. Mariama Sarr, Minister of Civil Service and Public Service Renewal in Senegal; and H.E. Kabo Morwaeng, Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration in Botswana.

Among the Forum’s high-level speakers were also: H.E. Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, Minister of Tourism in South Africa; H.E. Dr. David Moinina Sengeh, Minister of Education and Chief Innovation Officer in Sierra Leone; H.E. Joel Saitoti Torome, Permanent Secretary of Planning in Kenya; H.E. Achim Steiner, Administrator of the UNDP; and H.E. Amira El Fadil, Commissioner for Social Affairs in the African Union. The African Peer Review Mechanism and the Federal Government of Nigeria were also represented.

In his remarks, His Excellency Mohammed Al Gergawi reaffirmed UAE’s commitment to global cooperation for development and prosperity, embodying the vision and directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai.

His Excellency said: “UAE believe that providing opportunities to share advanced practices and experiences between governments and international organizations is vital to develop a more inclusive vision and human-centered strategies to build a better future”. H.E. reiterated the necessity of global cooperation in response to the wide impact of COVID-19 Pandemic to overcome challenges and achieve rapid growth.

H.E. added that hosting Africa Futures Forum is part of the World Government Summit’s initiatives to provide governments and organizations a platform to shape their shared future, highlighting the historic relations between UAE and Africa and shared values to realize society’s development and empowerment.

H.E. Dr. Uzziel Ndagijimana, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning of Rwanda said: “COVID-19 has once again demonstrated how the world is interconnected and the vulnerability of mankind, rich and poor; which proved how all countries are affected when one country is unsafe. This tragic experience is a call to the world for stronger global cooperation, partnership and solidarity, in addressing both COVID-related issues as well as development challenges for a shared prosperity.”

H.E. Dr. Francis M. Kai-Kai, Minister of Planning and Economic Development of Sierra Leone, added: “Sierra Leone is fully convinced now than ever that multilateralism is key to tackle global challenges: the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, eliminating poverty and inequality in the world.”

H.E. Ohood Khalfan Al Roumi highlighted the importance of ensuring government readiness for the future amid the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, confirming UAE’s keenness to strengthen cooperation to achieve sustainable development, develop innovative solutions, and design new models to build a better future. In reaffirming UAE’s stance on global collaboration, Her Excellency announced the Government Experience Exchange Program with the UNDP, the AU-APRM, to share knowledge, and experiences to explore joint initiatives.

In conversation with Dr. Dena Assaf, the United Nations Resident Coordinator for the UAE, H.E. Mariam Almheiri noted that “Africa has incredible potentials to be a global leader in building food security capacities, but—as with all of the world’s continents—its agricultural sectors have felt the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak’.

On his part, H.E. Achim Steiner emphasized that countries have a once in a generation opportunity to chart a new course, and that the choices made by governments now will determine and shape our collective future. H.E. added: “Africa Futures Forum is a strong platform to strengthen our partnerships for more ambitious choices to build forward better, smarter and more sustainably,” suggesting that the new model of development requires focusing on climate action and leveraging the power of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

On behalf of the African Union, H.E. Amira El-Fadil highlighted the role of the African Union in promoting the wellbeing of African societies across various domains through landmark policies and programs. H.E. also noted the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, which exposed existing vulnerabilities and inequalities in the world, and highlighted opportunities for governments to strengthen capabilities and promote cooperation.

On behalf of the African Peer Review Mechanism, Professor Eddy Maloka said: “building resilient and strong institutions in Africa with the daunting consequences of COVID-19 across the continent, is more urgent than ever. The APRM partnership with the UAE Government is an ambitious opportunity for Afro-Arab development cooperation. Our collaboration shall empower African countries with necessary innovate tools and government accelerators programs to enhance digital transformation as well as the implementation of other sustainable development goals in preparing for the future.”

The Forum concluded with an interactive session on global innovation trends presented by the Mohammed bin Rashid Centre for Government Innovation (MBRCGI) that hosted H.E. Huda AlHashimi, Chief of Strategy and Government Innovation – UAE Government; Mr. Marco Daglio, Head of the Observatory for Public Sector Innovation at the OECD; and Mr. Kevin Lee, Founder and CEO of Mobilized Construction.

H.E. Al Hashimi stated that innovation is a key priority of the UAE Government and the subject of various landmark initiatives, including the Edge of Government Award announced at the annual edition of the World Government Summit in partnership with the OECD. H.E. noted that three African countries—Kenya, Tanzania, and Togo—previously won the coveted award, reflecting the volume of promising innovations from the growing continent.

Mr. Daglio elaborated that African governments have innovatively utilized digital solutions, and that the prioritization of innovation by the government is a fundamental step to promoting it. Meanwhile, Mr. Lee shared his optimism towards the future of innovation in Africa and the world.