With Resolve, Africa Has a Bright Future

Published on 26th May 2009

Unity:Africa's  Hope  Photo:AE graphics

It is first and foremost a sacred duty of every son and daughter of this Continent to ensure that the historic significance and importance of the creation of the Organization of African Unity on 25 May 1963 remain engraved in the memory of one and all.

Indeed, we should remember that through this act, the Founding Fathers of this prestigious Organization, in a bid to preserve and consolidate the newly won independence of their countries, and anxious to strengthen solidarity across the Continent in order to continue the task of the total liberation of Africa, not only laid the groundwork for our unity through a common African identity, but also set in motion  the dynamics of action and efforts underpinning the process of integration and development being resolutely pursued today by our Continent.

This Day is also an occasion to reaffirm our collective determination to strengthen our commitment “towards a united, peaceful and prosperous Africa” - the theme of this year’s celebration.  This celebration will also enable us to take stock of the progress achieved on the Continent against the goals set forth in this common Vision.

More than  forty years on, the balance sheet is encouraging and augurs well for the future, as evidenced by the irreversible process of continental integration that has galvanized the whole Africa since the vision of Sirte,  transformed the Organization of African Unity (OAU) into the African Union (AU), streamlined and further strengthened the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and accelerated the mechanism for the establishment of such continental institutions as the African Economic Community, the African Central Bank, the African Monetary Fund and the African Investment Bank.

The Continent can and should therefore look to its future with confidence and, above all, forge ahead to give concrete expression to the dream that has charted its collective course towards the advent of an Africa that is united and strong, and able to influence the course of international events; an Africa that is free from want and free from fear!

Indeed, since the idea of a Union Government was launched at the Abuja Summit in 2005, decisive strides have been made on the roadmap of the continental governance, especially with the ongoing transformation  of the Commission into the Authority, the establishment of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) and a number of Organs, including the African Court of Justice and Human  Rights, the African Commission on Human Rights and Peoples Rights, and the Economic, Social and cultural Council which are now operational.

The global nature of the threats facing the world makes it impossible for any State to face these threats on its own, nor can the security of the world or the continent be ensured by working in isolation. Everyone now knows that to succeed in a globalized world, common responses should be sought and collective action taken by drawing on the organization of the world into integrated regional groupings, through regional cooperation. The awareness of this fact was recently echoed in the two strong and concrete signals jointly given by COMESA, EAC and SADC:

• The grouping of these three Organisations into a single Free Trade Area with about 600,000,000 inhabitants and therefore rightly considered as the precursor to the achievement of the total economic integration of the Continent;

• The North-South Corridor Initiative which is a successful example of integrated regional development, with the Regional Trade Facilitation Programme as its Secretariat.

To build a united, integrated, developed and peaceful Africa, the African Union must also take up the challenge – and not the least of them all – of striking a fair balance between the exigencies of political stability and rapid socio-economic development to which all the peoples of the continent legitimately aspire. In order to achieve this, the Commission has drawn up a fundamental instrument according to which the implementation of the political and economic integration process of the continent will cover a four-year period. I am here referring to the 2009-2012 Strategic Plan, which is the framework for the work of the Commission and is built on four main pillars, namely peace and security, development and cooperation, shared values and institutional strengthening. This Plan puts, inter alia, the coordination of the Initiatives of the various Stakeholders and Partners at the very heart of its action.

This year, Africa Day takes on a special dimension in a context marked by widespread crisis in the world economy, with an Africa that increasingly speaks with one voice at international fora like the G20 held in London to present a common position on Africa’s demands. What is more, Africa now united and unified around a common vision, shared values and collective awareness and, above all, around strong commitments will continue to press for the necessary reforms of international institutions with a view to its effective participation in all international negotiations relating to the formulation of rules of world economic governance and the legitimate improvement of representation of African countries in International Institutions like the IMF and the World Bank, the United Nations Security Council, while using the examples of initiatives such as NEPAD  and many others to prove that the continent and its institutions are not merely content with expecting assistance from our external partners to whom I express all our gratitude for their unfailing presence and support.

Moreover, this year’s celebration is taking place at a time marked by renewed efforts to strengthen peace, security and stability in the Continent where the overall situation is worrying with the resurgence of coups d’ Etat, the deterioration of some conflicts, the threatening scourge of drugs in certain regions, the extension of sea piracy... This determination is illustrated by a number of measures, notably the pursuit of the operationalization of the various components of the Continental Architecture for Peace and Security, alongside the Peace and Security Council, such as the Panel of the Wise, the Continental Early Warning System and the African Standby Force, as well as by actions such as the deployment of AMISOM in Somalia, of UNAMID in Darfur and the strengthening of cooperation between the AU and the Regional Mechanisms for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution.

At this juncture, I wish to pay tribute to all African soldiers and police personnel deployed in peacekeeping operations, within the Continent and elsewhere, for their contribution and self-abnegation. My special thoughts go to all those who died in the accomplishment of their noble but difficult mission for the cause of peace! We are most grateful to them.

It goes without saying that besides the willingness and commitment of States, the future of our Continent will largely depend on the choice, commitment and participation of each of its sons and daughters. To this end, it is incumbent on each State and Government to embrace good governance and meet the aspirations and basic needs of its citizens in a responsible manner. The establishment of the African Charter for Democracy, Elections and Governance and the African Peer Review Mechanism is specifically meant to address this demand.

It is our common duty to pursue together and succeed in the drive to collectively build the continent and thereby achieve in a near future, we all hope, the development, prosperity and stability of Africa. Let us make this dream that our Fathers have for so long nurtured become a reality and let us march resolutely towards a united, peaceful and prosperous Africa. 

By H.E. Dr. Jean Ping

Chairperson, African Union Commission on the occasion of the commemoration of Africa Day (May 25, 2009.)

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