Mr President –
New Zealand thanks the organisers of this timely debate, and also thanks the President of the General Assembly and the Secretary-General for their statements.
As we’ve already heard from others, such as Egypt and Pakistan, and as everybody in this room well knows, Africa is undergoing an economic transformation. By 2050, the 54 countries of Africa will be home to two billion people; African economies are growing rapidly, and they are diversifying.
Just last week the Security Council heard from SRSG Djinnit – Head of the UN Office for West Africa – that, despite the challenges of the sub-region, on which news headlines are so focused, West Africa continues to record high economic growth, with an average rate of 7 percent. This year, Cote d’Ivoire, just one among many, has projected growth of 8 percent.
As a continent, Africa has more of the world’s fastest-growing economies than any other; and New Zealand agrees with Algeria and others that this growth must be fuelled by massive investment, not least infrastructure investment, particularly in energy infrastructure, and that there is a unique opportunity to meet that future growth from renewable sources.
Africa has vast renewable energy resources: hydro, geothermal, wind, solar and bioenergy – resources which, by 2050, could meet most of its energy needs. That makes good business sense – even without subsidies. The costs of technology are falling and demand is growing.
New Zealand – a small country with an agricultural base – has niche expertise and experience in renewable energy; expertise that’s directly relevant to sustained growth in Africa. Almost 80 percent our electricity comes from renewables.
Sharing that expertise, in a small, but pragmatic and meaningful way, New Zealand can contribute to Africa’s development objectives; and we particularly support the African initiative to develop a clean energy corridor. Last year, we hosted a study tour for east and southern African energy officials, focused on New Zealand’s approach to integration of renewables and development of energy markets.
New Zealand’s value-add is to provide technical expertise and assist in laying the groundwork which allows larger institutions and donors to invest with confidence in the quality of the technical advice and information on which that investment decision is based. We are, for example, doing just that in Comoros, where New Zealand is supporting geothermal surface exploration to determine the size, location and viability of geothermal resources.
Mr President -
As an agricultural nation, New Zealand knows that agriculture can be the “engine of economic growth” in most African countries; so we also support the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme, including its key pillar of increasing food supply and reducing hunger. The production and commercialisation of agricultural produce within Africa, and for African markets, helps promote the achievement of wider development goals.
New Zealand is, for example, partnering with the Clinton Health Access Initiative and with Rwanda and Ethiopia, to reduce stunting by producing a nutritional product for children between 6–23 months. This product will be manufactured locally, on a commercial basis, in factories built by international and African investors – factories that will source crops from local small-holder farmers – whose incomes will increase significantly over the next four years.
Given the importance of agriculture to Africa’s future economic growth, and New Zealand’s own, unique history of building a developed economy from an agricultural base, we are committed to advancing agricultural research, in partnership with numerous African countries. To that end, New Zealand is providing post-graduate scholarships in Agriculture to students from 28 countries in Africa to help develop agricultural research skills.
New Zealand also leads the Global Research Alliance, which seeks ways to grow more food without increased greenhouse gas emissions - there are currently 41 Alliance members.
Mr President –
As rightly mentioned in the Concept Note, a thriving private sector is important for overall development. While I know it doesn’t sound that exciting, business registry reform can have a real, tangible impact on businesses, allowing for cheaper, faster and more accurate business registration processes. As a country that’s proud to be ranked third in the world for “ease of doing business”, this is another area where New Zealand has – in partnership with countries in southern Africa – provided practical, helpful support.
Africa’s continued development – through investment in its infrastructure and in its people – will surely be one of the great success stories of the first half of this 21st century.
And so, Mr President, in this, the African Union’s “Year of Agriculture and Food Security”, New Zealand is pleased to be making practical, meaningful contributions in niche areas of expertise to contribute to this continued, impressive development.