Addis Ababa — "We are here to listen and learn about what you consider as relevant for Africa and the African Union at the G20," said Ambassador Pedro Villagra Delgado, Argentina's Sherpa for the G20.
He was speaking during a meeting with representatives of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the United Nations Office to the African Union (UNOAU), and the United Nations Resident Coordinator(UNRCo) for Ethiopia on Monday 12 February 2018 in Addis Ababa.
G20 (Group of Twenty) is a forum that seeks to strengthen the global economy, reform international financial institutions, improve financial regulation and implement economic reforms that are needed in each member economy. It is made up of 19 countries plus the European Union. South Africa is the only African member-country of the G20.
Mr. Delgado said, "From the moment Argentina took over the G20 presidency, we wanted to reach out to all, including non-members of the G20." He noted that besides continuing with the agendas of previous G20 presidencies, Argentina will lay emphasis on areas such as gender parity; education and digital technology; food security; investment for infrastructure; and fighting corruption, among others.
UNOAU Chief, Haile Menkerios, commended Mr. Delgado for seeking the views of African countries, adding "I salute G20's commitment to Africa's Agenda 2063." He urged the G20 to encourage Africa's ownership of Agendas 2030 and 2063 and to "remain conscious of the partnership between the United Nations and the African Union," which aims to ensure peace and security on the continent.
ECA's Chief Economist and Deputy Executive Secretary, Abdalla Hamdock, described G20's effort to reach out to African countries as "a step in the right direction." He highlighted trade and regional integration; Illicit Financial Flows (IFF); climate change; technology; natural resources for development; macroeconomic policy; and migration as some of Africa's priority areas where collaboration with the G20 will be helpful.
For her part, the UNRCo, Ahunna Eziakonwa-Onochie, deplored the fact that Africans reap much less for their hard work, compared to people in other parts of the world. She asked, "How can we ensure that the hard work of Africans yields proportionate result?"
The Resident Coordinator expressed hope that collaboration with the G20 can help change the narrative about Africa.
"The story about Africa needs to change because Africans are very hard-working people," said Ms. Eziakonwa-Onochie. "They are not these people who just sit and wait for aid."
She added that Africa needs to be "acknowledged and supported" for its global leadership role in hosting and supporting refugees. Countries like Ethiopia and Uganda, said Ms. Eziakonwa-Onochie, are amongst the top refugee-hosting nations.
G20's South Africa Desk Director, Cedrick Crowley, applauded the fact that "we are having this meeting in Addis Ababa, the seat of the African Union where African voices can easily be heard." He expressed satisfaction with Argentina's G20 priorities, adding that fighting Illicit Financial Flows and tuberculosis (TB) are some of the areas where South Africa and Africa as a whole would like to mobilize international support for.
At the end of the meeting, Mr. Delgado said he was pleased with the input from ECA, UNOAU and the UNRCo, stating "This is exactly why we needed to come here and I hope Argentina can count on you during its G20 presidency."
The G20 delegation also met with officials of the African Union.