Sunday, 9 February 2014

AUC Chairperson outlines Africa’s priorities in meeting with German Economic Cooperation and Development Minister

Addis Ababa, February 2014-Africa’s present and next generations have the responsibility to transform the continent to be prosperous, integrated, peaceful and significant in world affairs. In this process of development, the role of women and young people should be mainstreamed.

“Transformation means investing heavily in our people: in health, education, skills, science, technology and innovation, for both boys and girls. If we do not invest, we will never be prosperous”, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, H.E. Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma said in a meeting today with German Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development, Dr Gerd Muller, who had requested to hear from the Chairperson how his country and Europe could support African efforts. 

In discussions that were underlined by a mutual understanding of the need to engage in meaningful cooperation, Dr Muller pledged: “We do not want to simply talk. We want to develop projects. We want to assist you to achieve peaceful development.”

One of the projects proposed by the German Minister and that are in line with the AU’s Agenda 2063, is support with vocational training for young people. The Minister highlighted his country’s particularly strong capacity to train young people in agriculture and industry. He also announced an offer of cooperation in green environmental technologies. The cooperation, he suggested, could start off with meaningful projects in agriculture, energy and education sectors in a few countries on the continent, adding that significant progress has already been achieved in agricultural projects in Ethiopia.

Saying he envisages a win- win partnership, Dr Muller offered knowledge and expertise, while also highlighting that the value added should remain in the countries themselves. To this, the Chairperson, Dr. Dlamini Zuma proposed that the knowledge transfer could be multiplied beyond the participating countries, by inviting young people from other African countries to also take part and take the knowledge and skills back to their own countries.

Further outlining African priorities, Dr Dlamini Zuma said, aside from the human resources development andin reference to 2014 which is being celebrated across Africa as the Year of Agriculture and Food Security, “we must produce enough food from the land, both for ourselves and to contribute to the world economy. In so doing, we need to empower women to enable them to make a living and become business people”.

Exploitation and beneficiation of the continent’s natural resources is another priority for the continent, which has a well-documented abundance of resources to drive its development. Among these resources, the Chairperson mentioned sun, wind, fossil fuels, oceans, forests, fisheries, and minerals as having the potential to propel Africa into a developed continent by 2063. She particularly stressed the need for these resources to benefit Africans:“Mineral resources are not working very well for us, but for other people. That has to change. We produce 80% of the world’s cocoa and platinum yet we do not determine the prices of those commodities”, she said, adding that “We hope that our partners will not make us feel we are doing something wrong, because these are our resources”.

The Commission Chairperson indicated development of intra-African trade, fairer negotiations and terms in world trade, infrastructure, and enough energy and transport as key drivers of the continent’s development.

Talking about peace and security on the continent, Dr Dlamini Zuma stressed the need for stable institutions in Africa to deal with turbulence and to stop political or other fissures from disintegrating into costly conflicts that take a huge toll on human lives and development prospects.

Referring specifically to the situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) and South Sudan, on which Dr Muller had requested more information, she said:“CAR needs to build institutions. This will help the government to deliver services and maintain law and order”. Dr Muller requested for more dialogue on how the EU can support missions such as the Mission to the Central African Republic (MISCA).

In outlining the AU’s interventions to bring peace to South Sudan, Dr Dlamini Zuma mentioned that an AU delegation under the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) has been dispatched to meet with Mr Riek Machar and is also to travel to Juba, to emphasize on the necessity for the two groups to observe the ceasefire. “South Sudan is a new state. It too needs institutions to deal with turbulence. We hope all friends will work for its benefit, find solutions and not take sides”. She also informed the German Minister that a political solution is the best way to bring about the desired peace, reconciliation and healing of wounds arising from the conflict.

She highlighted the role of women by stressing that a lot of attention needs to be put on their participation in efforts to find solutions to the challenges, as well as in government structures and all institutions.“If we had more women, the outlook would be different and there would be less conflict, “the AUC Chairperson concluded.