Welcome Remarks by Mr. Abdalla Hamdok

Launch of the African Disability Forum 


Welcome Remarks by Mr. Abdalla Hamdok

Deputy Executive Secretary


17 November 2014


The UN Special Rapporteur on Disability, Mr Shauaib Chalken

Distinguished experts,

Colleagues and friends from the UN System,

Ladies and gentlemen.


Good morning!


On behalf of the Economic Commission for Africa and our partners, I would like to warmly welcome you to Addis Ababa, the capital and home to the African Union, the Economic Commission for Africa and to this meeting.   We are very pleased to see all of you and are excited of what we expect will be a lively and productive discussion to launch the African Disability Forum.

We feel very honoured to host such an important event witnessing the birth of the first ever unified forum of disabled persons organisations (DPOs) across Africa.  The ADF will play a vital role in facilitating change on the continent, so that the contribution of people with disability can be recognised, elevated and celebrated.

May I take this opportunity to thank, most sincerely, our Special Rapporteur on Disability and colleagues from New York in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) for initiating and providing the lead in organising this launch of the ADF as endorsed by the Economic and Social Council.


Distinguished Participants,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The number of people with disabilities in Africa is increasing and we are not talking about a small minority of people – it is estimated that up to 15 per cent of the African population live with some sort of disability.   This is also the only minority group that any single person can join at any time, through illness or accident, conflict or, quite simply, getting older.

Like in most parts of the world, people with disability in Africa are too often left without the basic services and equipment they need; denied the chance to work and study or take advantage of opportunities to live their life to its full potential.  They are discriminated against, shut out and isolated by ignorance and prejudices. 

But, as can be demonstrated by this gathering here today, people with disability and their families want Africa to change – they want a continent which is inclusive, enabling and which provides equality and the opportunity for each person to fulfill their potential.  As Africa is rising, we don’t want to lose the chance to have participation from more than 15% of our society.

When the UN adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability in 2006, member States were inspired to challenge the barriers, discrimination and prejudice that people with disabilities face every single day of their lives.   Some progress has been made. At national levels, the number of countries that are party to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is growing.  There has been increasing numbers of countries that have introduced measures to promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities. Countries are also drafting and implementing strategies and action plans to address the needs of persons with disability. 

There is progress as well at the regional levels in terms of putting in place policy frameworks. For example, the revised Continental Plan of Action of the African Decade of Persons with Disabilities (2010-2019) was adopted at the third session of the African Union Conference of Ministers of Social Development, held here in Addis Ababa in 2012.


Distinguished Participants,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In spite of such strides made, there are still persistent gaps between policy and practice.  Implementation of disability policies potentially have several challenges including weak institutional capacities, limited resources, and poor monitoring and evaluation processes.  Limited data continues to hinder the accurate measurement of the well being of persons with disability. 

The outcome documents of the high-level meeting of the General Assembly on the realization of the Millennium Development Goals and "The way forward, a disability-inclusive development agenda towards 2015 and beyond ", underlined the need for “urgent action” by all relevant stakeholders towards adoption and implementation of more ambitious disability-inclusive national development strategies with disability-targeted actions, backed by increased international cooperation and support.

These are all reasons why we need the African Disability Forum!

Through the establishment of the Forum, we have an opportunity to do something ground breaking.  We hope that, networks across Africa will be strengthened and ultimately capacities of people with disabilities will be empowered to enjoy their rights. 

On that note, let me conclude my welcome message with a wish for a lively and productive exchange of ideas. We look forward to the cooperation of all the key stakeholders present here today in working together, through the ADF, for an Africa where persons with disability feel equal and included.


I thank you for your attention.