Continental unity thrust forward by AU Summit

Monday, February 19, 2018

By Phumla Williams, GCIS Acting Director General 

Forging unity and building alliances amongst a group of nations is an integral part of any society. In Africa this unity and sense of purpose is driven by the African Union. During the 30th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government on 28 and 29 January 2018 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the unity of the continent was given a big push forward.

The theme of the summit spoke of the need to find a sustainable path to Africa’s transformation, while tackling the scourge of corruption. It provided an opportunity for countries across the continent to deliberate on a number of issues, including institutional reforms of the AU, continental free trade and the state of peace and security on the continent.

While talks on corruption centred on the realisation that it is a complex social, political and economic challenge that affects all nations. By fighting corruption we lay the foundation for a more equitable, inclusive and prosperous future for all, built on a culture of integrity, transparency, accountability and good governance.

For a number of years Africa has been on a path of growth and renewal under the stewardship of the AU, steered by Agenda 2063; our collective vision for a prosperous, united and cohesive Africa. 

Agenda 2063 is Africa’s strategic roadmap to move us to a free, safe and fully developed continent. It is underpinned by the AU’s vision to build an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa that is a dynamic force in the international arena.

During the summit a number of decisions were taken that will drive Agenda 2063. Chief amongst these was expanding the integration of the continent to ensure greater and inclusive economic growth.

Member states agreed on the need to implement a Single African Air Transport Market, which will bring about enhanced connectivity across the continent. This will allow all nations to benefit from the development of the aviation and tourism industry. It will also lead to greater economic growth, job creation, prosperity and integration of Africa.

Similarly the Assembly agreed on the need to fast track the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area. Once fully operational the CFTA will drive faster economic growth, trade and job creation.

The decision taken at the summit will undoubtedly continue to build on the narrative of a rising Africa. Our continent is a major driver of global growth, and is increasingly viewed as a major player in the world. 

Under the stewardship of the AU, African leaders are taking the lead in finding African solutions to the continent’s problems.  This includes preventing conflicts or mediating to ensure peace in cases of conflict.  

Long gone are the days when the AU was accused of being slow and ineffective in responding to problems on the continent. Sixteen years after the birth of the AU in 2002, the continental body is viewed as a strong global voice that embodies democracy, good governance, peace and prosperity.

On 28 and 29 January the hopes and dreams of a continent and its people were given a renewed boost.  It is now up to us to build on these commitments and achievements by ensuring that we build lasting partnerships to deal with the challenges of poverty, underdevelopment, peace, security and stability. 

Our continent is blessed with a youthful population, and an abundance of natural resources as well as human capital.  By harnessing this potential we can ensure more inclusive growth so that all Africans, regardless of their circumstances can share in the infinite promise and potential of our continent.

A united Africa is crucial to the socio-economic well-being of all who live on our continent. By continually working together as one continent we will grow our socio-economic potential and reap even greater harvests.

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