AU needs active participation to advance Africa

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The African Union (AU) needs solid support from its member states and organs to help the continent achieve political and economic integration.

South Africa’s International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane on Monday said the commitment and enthusiasm shown by members of the Pan African Parliament (PAP) was encouraging, and a sure sign that Africa would meet its development targets.

The Minister was addressing the fifth ordinary session of the PAP, which is attended by member states of the AU. The session opened in Midrand, Gauteng, on Monday under the theme ‘Harnessing the demographic dividend through investments with the youth’.

It is an opportunity for member states to discuss issues surrounding peace and security on the continent, as well as good governance. The session, which will end on 20 October, will see member states debating the common position on AU/European Union (EU) agreements, reports of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), as well as resolutions and recommendations from the 2017 Speakers’ Conference.

Opening the session on behalf of President Jacob Zuma, Minister Nkoana-Mashabane said it was the member states’ collective responsibility to ensure that PAP is beneficial to African citizens. She views PAP as an important organ that enables countries to ensure citizens participate in democracy and governance.

“We are confident that the Pan African Parliament will contribute to this policy objective, both in terms of the Pan African Parliament’s substantive mandate and by providing opportunities to the youth of our continent,” said Minister Nkoana-Mashabane.

However, Africa’s developmental agenda can only be achieved within peaceful, stable and favourable conditions. To this end, the Minister reaffirmed South Africa’s commitment to peace and security on the continent.

“Our involvement in peace-keeping missions and contributions to efforts aimed at post-conflict reconstruction and development are evidence of the commitment we make to achieve sustainable development on the continent,” she said.

The Minister went on to also reassure that South Africa remained committed to strengthening the continental bodies and its organs and mechanisms aimed at integration, sustainable development, and attainment of peace and security.

“We are committed to the goals that we have set for ourselves such as harnessing the demographic dividend and investing in African youth, as we are a youthful continent,” the Minister said.

She said Africa can unleash its youth’s potential by adhering to the aspirations and implementation of the African Union Agenda 2063.

PAP is an organ of the African Union, which was formed in 2005 to promote democracy and conflict resolution in the continent. Its vision is to provide a common platform for African people and their grass-roots organisations to be more involved in discussions and decision-making on the problems and challenges facing the continent.

Investing in African youth

The President of Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), Brahim Ghali, also addressed the session. He highlighted the importance of investing in African youth, saying it will result in Africa’s social and economic advancement.

The Sahrawi leader said addressing issues related with demographic dividends provides hope, steady transformation and a reinvigorated work force for the continent. However, he stressed the need for constant follow up to see through the efforts of investing in young Africans.

He said the Sahrawi government has taken deliberate efforts to involve its youth in the implementation of all government policies and programmes.

“We are investing in the youth through training and education so that we have an enlightened, educated and responsible generation that is fully equipped with modern technology and aware of the challenges facing our societies, and a generation that is capable of achieving a qualitative leap for the betterment of our people through attainment of peace, security, stability, prosperity and progress,” President Ghali said.

Women's Conference

There will also be a Women's Conference on the side-lines of this PAP session.

The Women’s Conference will bring together national and regional women parliamentarians, civil society groups and other stakeholders to review progress in the promotion of gender mainstreaming and the economic advancement of women in Africa.

It will also discuss strategies and measures to fast-track the ratification and domestication of the AU Legal Instruments, particularly the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol), and the Pan African Parliament Protocol. -

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