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UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon marked Africa Day saying, “Africa continues to make steady economic, social and political progress.”
Africa Day is an annual commemoration of the founding of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) on May 25, 1963, when leaders of 30 of the 32 independent African states signed a founding charter in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
In his message to mark the day, the secretary general underscored the achievements of the continent and reflected on the challenges for this year.
The dominant story of the year has been the Ebola crisis that swept west Africa, claiming at least 11,000 lives and threatening hard-won social, economic and political achievements, he said. “With great courage and determination, and with the generous support of African nations and the international community, the affected countries have made remarkable progress towards ending the outbreak.”
“Overall, the continent’s economy grew by roughly four percent in 2014, creating one of the longest stretches of uninterrupted positive economic expansion in Africa’s history,” Ban added. He also noted that a growing number of Africans have joined the middle class each year.
The challenge, however, is to spread these benefits more broadly and deeply in Africa, particularly to women and girls said the UN chief.
“If we empower women, we help build better, more equal and more prosperous societies,” he said. “I welcome the declaration of 2015 as the year of women’s empowerment in Africa.”
“Africa leads the world in female representation in Parliaments, and the continent has one of the highest rates of female entrepreneurship,” Ban said. “Let us be inspired by these successes and intensify efforts to provide Africa’s women with better access to education, work and healthcare, and by doing so, accelerate Africa’s transformation.”
He also called for more action to end violence against women and girls while strengthening their role in all fields, including peace building.
The UN chief reaffirmed the commitment of the United Nations to work with the African Union, the Regional Economic Communities, and African countries to make this vision a reality.