2013: Exciting Year for Africa
Africa is increasingly seen as the continent of the future, as a place of enormous possibilities, thanks to a young and growing population, our natural resources, but also because of the improving business climate and opportunities, and the strides made in the consolidation of democracy and governance.
|Dr. Dlamini Zuma|
We are also proud of the more prominent role that women are playing in the running of the affairs of the continent and shaping its destiny. Indeed, there is general consensus that these are times of boundless opportunities for Africa. These are also reflected in changes in the headlines in the media about us.
We do however still have challenges that need to be overcome urgently and collectively. Our continent still has to contend with huge infrastructure backlogs, backlogs in education (especially higher education), health and other basic services, including responding to rapid urbanization, youth development and the need for food security. At the same time, it is a matter of concern that negotiations on global trade issues and climate change have almost collapsed, with very serious consequences for Africa.
It is therefore important that Africa remains resolute and determined to overcome these challenges. Central to this, is the institutional and other capacities to implement our plans at national, regional and continental levels.
We must be resolute to meet our vision of an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa by 2063. Amongst the critical areas in which we are required to speed up implementation, as Member states and the RECs, and supported by the Commission and other continental institutions, must necessarily include, but not exclusively:
Building Africa’s human capacity through the prioritisation of Primary Health Care and Prevention; Social Security; Education, Higher education, skills development and investment in Science and Technology, Research and Innovation.
Expanding Agricultural production, developing the Agro-processing and businesses sectors, increase market access, and attaining Africa’s collective Food security and nutrition.
Promoting inclusive economic development and industrialization through the acceleration of infrastructure development projects that will aid economic integration, expand intra-Africa investment and trade, and Africa’s global market access, value addition, enhanced private sector engagement, effective and sustainable utilization of the continent’s mineral and other natural resources and of course promoting intra-continental tourism.
Promoting peace and stability, good governance, democracy and human rights as a foundation for inclusion, security and the development of the continent and its people.
Mainstreaming the participation of women and the youth in all priorities and activities of the Union and the continent,
Implementing strategies of resource mobilization, including alternate sources of funding, to enable Africa to finance its programmes and development.
Building a People-centred Union through active communication of the programmes of the African Union, the branding of the Union and participation of all stakeholders in defining and implementing the African agenda.
Strengthening the institutional capacity of the AU Commission, including its working relationship with other organs and institutions.
Working together so that we develop and strengthen coordination and cooperation with the RECs and Member states.
Strengthen cooperation with continental strategic partners, like the ECA and ADB, so that we build on our different, but complementary roles, working together towards the realisation of a common continental agenda.
We should work with our partners from across the world, cooperating on the agenda of the continent as set by our Union, so that Africa takes responsibility for of its development and in the process, contributes to the building of a more just and equitable world.
While the majority of countries in the Continent are enjoying peace and stability, sadly there are still a number of countries mired in conflict, whether ongoing, re-emerging or new.
We are registering steady progress towards the operationalization of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA), which has played a critical role in the management of these conflict situations. As a result, progress has been registered in Somalia, Sudan/South Sudan, Madagascar.
However, we have seen the re-emergence of conflict in the eastern DRC, Guinea Bissau and the Central African Republic, whilst in Mali and the Sahel we are now facing new, multi-faceted challenges with broader regional and continental implications. Member States, RECs and the Union must continue to join efforts towards achieving sustainable peace in Africa, with the assistance of the international community.
It is my fervent hope that we maintain a proper and healthy balance between achieving peace and advancing development. It is evident that the Continent cannot advance without succeeding on both fronts simultaneously.
This balance can most effectively be achieved through an active African citizenry participating in governance and development, and through active mobilization of all sectors of civil society and the Diaspora, especially during this year of celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Union.
This is a watershed year for Africa, which marks 50 years of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), the jubilee of the Pan African Women’s Organisation (PAWO) that was established in 1962, as well as 10 years since the launch of the African Union.
These anniversaries are observed and organised under the theme: “Pan Africanism and African Renaissance”, providing us with opportunities to take stock of the key milestones of the past 50 years and to project to the future.
Africa is well placed to develop innovative solutions to the challenges it faces. We have our genius, our shared values and resources, to invent and reinvent models of equitable growth and sustainable development that will provide a better life for the current and future generations. Indeed Africa can be innovative, because with the economic crisis and other developments of the last few decades, there is no single model that can claim superiority, so we can develop our own path.
To that end, the Commission is in the process of developing a Concept Paper, which will lay a basis for the Africa-wide Agenda 2063, taking stock of the origins and meaning of Pan Africanism and Renaissance during the first fifty years of our Union, its relevance today and how these concepts will continue to inspire successive generations over the next fifty years.
The AU Commission intends to consult widely, starting with the Member States and the Regional Economic Communities (RECs), stakeholders and sectors on the continent and in the Diaspora, such as academia, artists, civil society, women and youth, the private sector and others, with a view to have a Framework document for debate to the Anniversary Summit in May. We have already started working with our continental strategic partners, the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and African Development Bank on these matters.
2013 will be an exciting and a hardworking year for all of us.
By HE Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma
Chairperson of the African Union Commission.
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