Speech

Opening Address at UN Side-Event on Inclusive Growth and Employment in Africa by H.E. Lars Løkke Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark

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Honourable co-panelists, Madam Moderator, ladies and gentlemen,

Today, we want to draw attention to the fact that no country has ever eradicated poverty without high and sustained economic growth. This is not least the case for Africa.

The conditions in Africa for this agenda are excellent: Africa has the resources. And Africa has the hands and minds. In 2025, for every four young people in the world, one will be from Africa.

The African economy is already on the move. Indeed, many point to Africa as the next growth market after the financial crisis. Perhaps, in a not too distant future, our children’s electronic equipment will be “Made in Africa”!

However, economic growth is not enough. As partners in development, we must assist in making Africa’s growth inclusive. To make sure that growth supports freedom and opportunities for the individual to escape poverty.

Ensuring that growth creates jobs is a huge challenge. A challenge that is shared by us all. In many African countries, more and more girls and boys survive the first difficult years, go to school and grow up. But grow up to what? We must channel young people’s energy and innovative spirit into activities that benefit themselves and their society.

This is not an easy task. Tanzania, for example, needs to create opportunities for around 700.000 young people who enter the labour market every year. And the challenge is no less for countries such as Liberia that have just come out of conflict.

But it is clear that Africa’s future lies in its young generations. It is here we must focus our attention.

This was the conclusion of the Africa Commission, which was initiated by the Danish Government. The Commission launched its recommendations last year and today we are pleased to present the Commission’s progress report. I encourage you all to take a copy.

I am pleased that economic growth is recognized in the outcome document of the High Level Plenary Meeting. This agenda is gaining momentum. It gives reason for optimism.

Private sector-led growth is the most effective means to create jobs, reduce poverty and achieve the MDG’s. Governments play an important role in improving the environment for private business. That means, for instance, combating corruption, opening markets and enforcing private property rights. This is key to attracting foreign investments, but also to realizing the potential of the “home grown” enterprises.

The Africa Commission pointed to five concrete actions to support the development of “home grown” enterprises in Africa. Allow me to highlight just one with a huge potential: That is the establishment of the African Guarantee Fund, which will provide access to finance for small and medium-sized enterprises. The African Development Bank, Spain and Denmark plan to raise 300 million US Dollars. I would like to take this opportunity to invite others to join us in this endeavour.

Denmark has followed through on the Africa Commission’s recommendations. By 2014, we will have doubled Danish support to private sector development in Africa. And growth and employment is a key priority in our new strategy for development cooperation.

We do this because now is the right time. Africa’s potential has never been greater. And African countries are taking the lead. We, the development partners, must do our part.

I am looking forward to a good debate with this distinguished panel and the audience on how we best support growth and employment in Africa.

Thank you.