May 25, 2013
On Africa Day, Canada congratulates African nations on the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Organization of African Unity. Canada supports the African Union's vision of an integrated, prosperous, and peaceful Africa.
African countries have made continued progress in solidifying their economic standing in the world. The continent as a whole has experienced impressive economic growth over the past decade, in addition to taking significant steps forward on democracy and social issues. With more democratic systems in place in Africa than at any other time in its history, and with more children in school than ever before, it is not surprising that African economies are now among some of the fastest growing in the world. Capitalising on such momentum will require focused investments that achieve tangible results.
As a committed partner in this effort, Canada will continue to emphasise health and education, food security and nutrition, and sustainable economic growth as the keys to future African prosperity. Improving the health of mothers, newborns and children, and reducing the number of preventable deaths are top priorities. The centrepiece of Canada's efforts is the Muskoka Initiative, which addresses the significant gaps that exist in maternal, newborn, and child health in developing countries. Eighty percent of new funding from the Initiative will be invested directly in the health and well-being of mothers and young children in sub-Saharan Africa. In Ethiopia, 1.5 million children under five have received essential nutrition. In Mozambique, more than 100,000 mothers have received treatment to prevent the mother-to-child HIV transmission. In Tanzania, 40,000 health workers will be trained to help immunise mothers and children.
Canada is also leading international action on accountability for resources and results. Prime Minister Stephen Harper co-chaired, along with President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete of Tanzania, the Commission on Information and Accountability for Women's and Children's Health. This Commission, agreed on a comprehensive accountability framework that tracks whether maternal and child health results are being achieved and whether resources are being spent wisely and transparently.
On food security, we will continue to pursue initiatives that improve access to safe and nutritious food, a critical step in helping Africans maintain good health and overcome poverty. Canada's commitment to the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in Africa, for example, will help to bring 50 million people out of poverty over 10 years through an African-led process to accelerate progress on agricultural growth.
Canada also supports African investment and trade by investing in people and helping governments in Africa design the necessary laws and regulations for businesses to grow. With 10 percent of the world's proven oil reserves, 40 percent of gold, and as much as 90 percent of chromium and platinum metals, Africa is uniquely positioned to reap the rewards of responsibly managed extractive resources. As Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said, "The development of mining, oil and gas resources in Africa is critical to the future prosperity of the continent."
Canada supports the African Mining Vision and the new African Mineral Development Centre (AMDC). The AMDC will deliver guidance and policy advice to African countries on how to manage their extractive sectors responsibly and transparently. The Centre will also provide a forum focused on generating innovative approaches to increase the contribution of those sectors to reduce poverty in Africa, resulting in positive development impacts. Canada has established the Canadian International Institute of Extractive Industries and Development, which will play a complementary role to the AMDC, and establish itself as a world-renowned, independent centre for resource management and resource-sector governance. The Institute will help governments develop and implement natural resource-related policies, legislation, and regulations, while also providing training and technical assistance to build their capacity.
These initiatives support the African Union's commitment to realise the transparent, equitable, and optimal use of Africa's mineral resources. Canada's support for responsible extractive sector development will help African leaders, and the African people to realise their shared vision of a prosperous and self-sufficient continent.
These are just a few examples of how Canada is committed to helping Africans build on the progress they have already made. On Africa Day, we proudly restate our commitment to supporting Africa in its continued efforts to promote a more integrated, prosperous, and peaceful continent.
Minister of International Cooperation