A moment for Africa to shine

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

By acting CEO of BrandSA Alice Pouane

Just over 12 years ago African leaders gathered in Durban for the first-ever African Union (AU) Summit. At that auspicious event African leaders pledged to the people of Africa and the world that through the formation of the AU, the continent was signalling a new beginning.

The AU emerged from the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) which oversaw the affairs of the continent for 39 years. It was however abundantly clear that the time was right for a new revamped institution - one that would build on the successes of the OAU and take the aspirations of our people forward.

It is an honour that after the historic formation of the AU on our shores our country has again been chosen to host the AU Summit from 7 to 15 June. As we prepare to welcome our fellow Africans, we do so with pride knowing that our continent has come a long way in achieving the objectives set out in Durban.

South Africa has consistently played an integral part in the formation of the AU’s institutions, policies and procedures, including the creation of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) and the AU Peace and Security Council, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development and the African Peer Review Mechanism.

Since 2002, we have endeavoured to achieve unity, solidarity, cohesion and cooperation on the African continent. This has been underpinned by our belief that the success of the African Agenda depends on strong bilateral relations all African countries.

Over the years we have promoted the AU as a continental institution of governance and development, helping to establish and strengthen the AU Commission to implement decisions of the AU Assembly and the AU Council.

As South Africa and the continent, we have made good progress towards women’s empowerment and gender equality. This is demonstrated by sound legislative frameworks, institutional mechanisms and arrangements that have been put in place to promote women’s rights, empowerment and gender equality and the achievements in the representation of women in political and decision-making positions both in the public and private sectors.

We are nevertheless still faced with major challenges and crises on the continent that impact disproportionately on women and girls.

The AU is at the forefront of the drive for peace, security and stability on the continent. We believe there can be no sustainable development without these. We are in agreement that dialogue and peaceful resolution of conflicts are the only way to guarantee enduring peace and stability for our people.

We have joined the chorus of African voices to condemn acts of terrorism that are committed in countries like Nigeria, Somalia and Kenya. It is incumbent on all of us to pool our resources to defeat terrorism in the interest of peace and stability.

A key task we have set ourselves is to ensure the successful implementation of Agenda 2063. It is a call for action, a strategic framework and roadmap to achieve continental development goals. It is an opportunity for Africa to again be the master of its own destiny, and is underpinned by the AU Vision to build an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, an Africa driven and managed by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the international arena.

Across the continent we are witnessing a commitment to the regional economic integration which will enable the free movement of goods, services, people and capital between national markets. This is fundamental to achieving robust and equitable growth in Africa.

The regional integration agenda ensures that African producers have access to regional markets and that they are integrated into more productive regional value chains. It includes integrating financial markets for easy capital flow among national economies. In addition, it promotes the free movement of labour for more efficient regional labour markets and for improved access to skilled labour for specialist production.

As our leaders proudly proclaimed in 2002, this is a moment of hope for our continent and its peoples. We shall continue to act together to build a brighter future for the people of Africa.

God bless Africa, God bless the African Union.

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