September 25, 2019: Seven African presidents - from Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Guinea, Ethiopia and Lesotho, in addition to representatives of some 30 governments attended a meeting moderated by the African Development Bank (AfDB), on the sidelines of the ongoing UN General Assembly at the UN Headquarters.

In the two-hour meeting, the African heads of states and governments met to emphasise urgent collective action and the need for greater collaboration between the United Nations and the AfDB to fast-track Africa's development.

The African Continental Free Trade Area, climate change in Africa, gender mainstreaming, promoting private sector investment, measures to utilise risk insurance to mitigate impact of natural disasters in Africa and appropriate security arrangements to support the Bank's operations in fragile states in on the continent were among the areas identified for potential collaboration.

Calling it a "the first of its kind" meeting, UN deputy secretary general Amina Mohammed underscored the strong convergence between the continent's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals and the African Development Bank's High 5s. She said it was time to join forces to deliver.

"We are entering into the decade of action to deliver the SDGs%u2026The investment requirements are vast. The role of the African Development Bank is crucial%u2026to help de-risk investments and attract investment flows...Africa's premier institution needs much more support," she added.

The leaders called for additional resources to drive the urgent task of Africa's development.

The leaders spoke of what had worked in their countries - including mainstreaming development goals into national plans, scaling up initiatives, and the implications of harmonizing policies and strategic entry points for the implementation of development goals at national, regional and global levels.

Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa called the SDGs Africa's "highest challenge." She said that stemming the tide of illicit financial flows, public debt and tax evasion would be urgent measures to be taken by leaders if they meant to stay on track.

Speaking at the meeting, Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank said, "The clock is ticking, the seconds are passing very fast, yet we still have time left on the clock. We can still close the gap. I am fully convinced that with a change of pace, driven by a greater sense of urgency, and global collective responsibility, Africa can still achieve the SDG."

An assessment by the United Nations Development Program has clearly shown that achieving the Bank's High 5s will allow Africa to achieve about 90 percent of the SDGs. "So, the faster we deliver on the High 5s, the faster we will reach our goal and desired destination," Adesina added.

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