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Speech by Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, Addis Ababa, 30 January 2016
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Prime Minister Hailemariam and other representatives of the Government of Ethiopia, African Union Commission Chairperson Dlamini Zuma, President of the AU, President Déby African Heads of State, Secretary-General of the UN Ban Ki-moon, Members of the African Union, Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, Dear friends,
I would like to offer my sincere thanks to my colleague, Prime Minister Hailemariam, for this wonderful event, and the fine opportunity to speak to you all. It is a great honour to be the first Swedish Prime Minister to address the Heads of State and Government of the African Union, and a great privilege and pleasure to be back in Addis Ababa.
I was here a year ago and met with many of you. I was here again in July at the Financing for Development Summit. And now I'm back again. Addis is becoming like a second home to me, and due to the long, dark Swedish winters – I might need it!
As I return to Addis, I can see how fast things move around here! I am not only speaking of the new railway here in Addis, where Swedish consultants have been honored to play a part, but of the extensive and rapid development in general. In this sense, Addis is an example of Africa.
Great things are happening in many parts of this great continent. It makes me want to learn, listen, understand and bring back to our cold north the message of an Africa of inspiration, growth and opportunities. I will tell them about hard work. Ambitions for progress. Impressive growth figures. And – not least – human development.
And my words will not fall on deaf ears. Your development has caught the attention of Swedish businesses, and many of them are ready to engage or expand in Africa. Emerging economies will soon drive the majority of the world's growth. I want my country to be part of that; I want us to increase our trade as equals, and share our future together.
And we will build that shared future on our shared history. Sweden's support for national independence and freedom from poverty and hunger has over the years evolved into a strong partnership.
We are partners in addressing regional and global challenges. We listen to one another. We share expertise. And we act. Together. This is why Sweden wants stronger cooperation between the AU and the UN. And why it is necessary to increase the African representation in the UN's Security Council.
One great and mutual commitment where we act, together, is the United Nation's Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development.
That's why I'm very glad that President Johnson Sirleaf, President Zuma, President Magufuli and President Caïd Essebsi, as well as other world leaders, have joined me in the informal high-level support group to mobilise strong political support for the important work of implementing the Agenda. Future generations will thank you.
These days are special to Swedish Social Democrats. It is almost exactly 30 years ago that our Prime Minister Olof Palme was murdered. Palme held his last speech at the People's Parliament against apartheid in Stockholm, just a week before he was murdered. Although his speech was filled with rage against apartheid, it also expressed faith. Faith in peace, development and justice. It expressed faith in Africa. It expressed faith in cooperation.
Today, I see this same faith and ambition in Africa's Agenda 2063 and its vision for Africa's advancement.
I am particularly happy to welcome the theme of the AU, the 'African Year of Human Rights with particular focus on the Rights of Women'.
I am inspired by the leadership on gender equality demonstrated by the African Union and in particular by you, Madame Dlamini Zuma. Together with President Kagame and President Mutharika, I am a champion for UN Women's HeForShe campaign. I urge all men to join in – at work, in their home life and among their friends.
Together we can create a gender-equal society – it is as morally right as it is financially smart.
And I'm proud to say that Sweden, as a partner, will stand alongside you, in the fight against climate change and the quest to improve energy supply in Africa, in the promotion of better education and employment opportunities for young people, in the creation of better systems for migration, that are circular, safe and sustainable both for receiving countries and for those African nations who need their young and ambitious to develop their societies, and in the many more challenges we face together.
Our development cooperation will remain broad and reliable.
The future is always uncertain, but of one thing I am very sure: Sweden's solidarity, friendship and longstanding partnership with the peoples of Africa.