H.E. Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, President of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea;
H.E. John A. Kufuor, President of the Summit, and Former President of the Republic of Ghana;
H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo, Former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria;
The President of the Sullivan Foundation, Mrs. Hope Sullivan Masters;
Other Heads of State and Government or Their Representatives Present;
Distinguished Participants from the African Diaspora;
Members of the Diplomatic Corps;
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen:
I bring you sincere greetings and best wishes from Her Excellency, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Madame President regrets her inability to attend this auspicious conference because of the compelling need to address pressing national affairs at this time, including working with her Cabinet and the Legislature of Liberia to pass the National Budget. She sends you sincere and heartfelt felicitations and wishes you well in your deliberations.
Madame President also congratulates her brother, H.E. President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, and the fraternal people of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea for hosting this important conference. She salutes the Sullivan Foundation and its partners for planning and executing this important forum for the positive articulation of strategies and principles urgently needed to accelerate African development under the theme "Africa Rising."
Indeed, despite lingering developmental challenges, Africa has been rising, from the turn of the century to the present, to higher levels of economic growth and democratic renewal. That is why many commentators and well-wishers, among them The Economist, have commented on this period by observing that six out of ten of the world's fastest-growing countries were African. In eight of the past ten years, Africa has grown faster than East Asia, including Japan. Even allowing for the knock-on effect of the Northern Hemisphere's slowdown, the International Monetary Fund expects Africa to grow by 6 percent this year – about the same as Asia.
Explaining the reason for this remarkable accomplishment, The Economist further declared that the commodities boom is partly responsible. In 2000-08, data show that around a quarter of Africa's growth came from higher revenues from natural resources. Favorable demography is another cause. With fertility rates crashing in Asia and Latin America, half of the increase in population over the next 40 years will be in Africa. But the growth also has a lot to do with the manufacturing and service economies that African countries are beginning to develop.
According to data presented at the recent KPMG Africa Conversation Series on Africa, other reasons for Africa's rise include increasing foreign direct investments, enhanced supervision of banks and better insurance policies. In this vein, Africa's GDP is projected to reach $2.6 trillion by the year 2020.
These are the building blocks and ingredients that contribute to the acceleration of growth and development in Africa. We have also witnessed a downturn of military coups, and strengthened democracies in many countries. Infrastructure upgrades and stable fiscal and banking policies have helped to boost macroeconomic stability at a time when much of the developed world was in turmoil as a consequence of the global economic meltdown. Africa's positive demographic momentum means its youthful population will sustain higher population growth rates in the future, engendering a burgeoning market, which is currently about 1 billion people, for partnership via foregoing direct investment.
It is therefore time to build upon these gains by working on changing the attitudes of the African population, especially the youth, by instilling discipline, the dignity of labor and ensuring that we invest in human capital to provide young people and our labor forces with the requisite skills to build sustainable futures.
For all of these, partnerships, not foreign aid, would be required going forward to attain win-win outcomes whereby foreign direct investors will gain by reaping profits while enabling African States to transform themselves into stable polities, where democracy and good governance prevail.
The African Diaspora, which African leaders have designated the "Sixth Region," must be encouraged to spur its innovative skills and resources in supporting African development.
Indeed, it is heartwarming to see good governance taking root in many African States, engendered by the now strong proclivities to harness their natural resources for sustainable development. In this respect, many African countries, including Liberia, have signed on to Extractive Industry Transparency Initiatives (EITI) to manage their natural resources, including oil and gas, which are being discovered in almost every country along the Bight of Benin.
Our continental, regional and sub-regional organizations must foster the requisite coordination and synergies that promote greater inter-African collaboration, trade and unity, rather than unnecessary and destructive competition. We must work harder to once and for all obliterate national and regional conflicts where they currently prevail, including in the Republics of Mali and Guinea-Bissau in West Africa. Here lies the imperatives of our Africa Peer Review Mechanism and principles of the New Partnership for African Development together with other internationally agreed goals and best practices, including the Millennium Development Goals, which must be nurtured and improved to foster greater growth and development.
In view of the diversity and nuances in Africa's development and the fact that each of the 54 African States is unique, we should not lose sight of evaluating each country on its own historical trajectory, achievements and merits. In this regard, the Administration of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has been playing its part by embarking on a transformation agenda to build a legacy of development and democracy. In the short term, the focus is on acquiring developmental deliverables in reconciliation, youth empowerment, national visioning, jobs, education, and better services. Also included are infrastructure development, economic development, governance, rights, and transparency, security, justice, and the rule of law. The long-term goal is to transform Liberia on an irreversible path of peace and development in order to attain sustainable growth and development that will make the country a middle polity by the year 2030.
Finally, as we search for further ways to move Africa to elevated heights of sustainable growth and development, we cannot forget the man in whose name this auspicious occasion, the ninth in the series, is being held: the late Reverend Leon H. Sullivan. Africa has benefitted immensely, and is better-off today, from the pioneering work of one who was arguably one the twentieth century's greatest innovators of ideas and tenets of humanitarianism par excellence, including the Sullivan Principles, the Opportunities Industrialization Centers International, and the International Foundation for Education and Self-Help, among many other innovations that have benefitted humanity.
We should therefore pay homage to this great hero by taking the Sullivan Principles to new heights through globally relevant resolutions that would emerge from our deliberations here this week to benefit the present generation of humankind as well as posterity.
Once again, on behalf of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, I congratulate His Excellency, President Mbasogo, and the fraternal people of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, the Sullivan Foundation and other partners for organizing this Ninth Leon H. Sullivan Summit with a pertinent theme, "Africa Rising."
I thank you.