During the 78th UN General Assembly (UNGA) in 2023, African heads of state and government discussed the pressing global challenges of climate change, war, inflation, poverty, water, and food insecurity, highlighting the increasing scope of humanitarian needs and growing inequality. They reviewed the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda, providing crucial political guidance on accelerating actions towards achieving these goals. This article examines key speeches by some African leaders at UNGA 2023.
Under the theme ‘Rebuilding trust and reigniting global solidarity: Accelerating action on the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals towards peace, prosperity, progress, and sustainability for all,’ the presidents of Trinada and Tobago, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, and Kenya expressed their commitment to achieving the SDGs in Africa.
President Dennis Francis of Trinidad and Tobago emphasised the urgency of progress in achieving the SDGs, particularly eradicating poverty and ending hunger. He called for immediate action on climate change, ecosystem restoration, and waste reduction and highlighted the need for enhanced financing, technology, debt sustainability, and capacity building to ensure prosperity and development.
Kenya’s President William Samoei Ruto stressed the importance of peace and security in achieving the SDGs, noting that peace and security failures, inadequate development, limited climate action, and technological advancement have left many people anxious about their security and well-being. President Ruto discussed Kenya’s achievements in conflict prevention, peacekeeping, peacebuilding, and digital innovation, emphasising the significance of digital inclusion for education, healthcare, and economic growth. He urged the international community to support African countries in building digital infrastructure and using technology to accelerate SDG achievement.
Rwandan President Paul Kagame emphasised inclusive growth and the importance of economic progress benefiting everyone. He reaffirmed Rwanda’s commitment to eradicating poverty, providing quality healthcare and education, and investing in clean energy and technology. President Kagame stressed the need for global cooperation to reduce economic inequalities and create a more equitable society.
Zimbabwean President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa highlighted the severe effects of climate change on Africa and called for prompt action and international cooperation to address the climate crisis. He discussed Zimbabwe’s initiatives to combat climate change, including forestry programmes and investments in renewable energy. President Mnangagwa emphasised the importance of investing in education, healthcare, clean water, and sanitation for people and communities. He called for a renewed commitment to the principles of the 2030 Agenda and multilateralism.
A common theme across these speeches was the significance of African unity and international collaboration in overcoming challenges and achieving the SDGs. African leaders urged the international community to fulfil its pledges to financially and technically support African nations in their SDG efforts. Their passionate appeals for cooperation, solidarity, and partnership demonstrated a shared commitment to creating a sustainable future for Africa and the world.