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Remarks by President Charles Michel at the G20 Compact with Africa Conference

Remarks given recently (27 August 2021) by President Charles Michel at the G20 Compact with Africa Conference.

Thank you Chancellor; first of all I would like to join in the praise and pay tribute to your tenacity and wisdom, which are sorely needed in today’s world. In direct reference to Moussa Faki’s remarks, I would also like to pay tribute to your lasting commitment not only to breaking down walls, but above all to building bridges.

This meeting is effective proof of our ambition to build bridges, to join together for this Compact with Africa, as has been highlighted by several speakers.

In my few minutes of speaking time, I would like to focus on two or three points.

Firstly, this Compact is proof of our ambition to create a new approach and a new paradigm for cooperation between G20 members and African nations. We know what we are up against: we are facing a climate crisis, the tragic consequences of which are more visible from one day to the next; we are going through a digital transformation which is changing our model of economic development; and, added to the mix, we are dealing with the COVID-19 crisis.

So we have an ambition to work together, because we are not all equal in the face of these economic and social challenges. Let us work together. The first challenge is the alliance for financing. It has been said many times before: investing in infrastructure is essential. Investing in human capital too is just as essential. I will not go into every issue, but will concentrate on one point: special drawing rights. In recent months, thanks to calls by African leaders which have, I believe, been heard in Europe and at the International Monetary Fund, we have been working on this issue. We must keep working to redraw the lines, break down the walls and build relationships. I very much welcome the extremely useful suggestion made by our friend Macky Sall: let's work together to see how we can build trust to mobilise even more partners to reallocate special drawing rights to those who need them most.

Secondly, alongside investment, reforms are needed. Reforms in Europe: we must see how we can make things easier, faster, less technocratic, less bureaucratic, and remove the hindrances holding back necessary progress. And reforms in Africa: to ensure greater legal certainty, to make investments more attractive, and to enhance stability. Let’s work together on this.

To conclude, let us invest and reform, according to an African proverb that I like a lot: ‘what my mouth says, my arm does’. It is an African saying; I think it could also be a motto for the Compact with Africa.

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