WE ARE running out of time, and we must act now to save Africa from permanent deprivation, says incoming African Union chairperson Paul Kagame.
And Kagame, the President of Rwanda, says Africans deserve a brighter future as their sacrifice and hard work should be rewarded with better lives for families and communities.
In his acceptance speech as the new AU chair, President Kagame, who takes over from Alpha Conde, the President of the Republic of Guinea, said Africa’s defining challenge was to create a pathway to prosperity for its people, especially the youths.
“Technology has evolved so rapidly in recent years that Africa’s window to follow that strategy is narrowing much more rapidly than previously understood. We are running out of time, and we must act now to save Africa from permanent deprivation,” President Kagame said.
He, however, warned that the growth trajectory that transformed Asia was not necessarily any longer a viable option for Africa, simply because the continent waited for too long to act. President Kagame said there is no country in Africa that did not want to be part of a more assertive and visible Africa.
He further said there was tremendous value in the African Union’s flagship initiatives, such as Agenda 2063.
President Kagame said there was need for Africa to create a single market, integrate its infrastructure, and infuse its economies with technology.
“No country or region can manage on its own. We have to be functional, and we have to stay together. The financial and institutional reform of the African Union derives all of its urgency from these realities. Fortunately, Africa has assets and strengths to build on, starting with this organisation, and its tangible commitment to unity…unity must be our starting point, as we do the necessary work of re-defining our plans and ambitions, in continental terms,” he said.
President Kagame added that the launch the Single African Air Transport Market would be a major step forward for transportation.
“We are nearly ready to adopt the Continental Free Trade Area. It really needs to be done this year; freedom of movement for people in Africa is equally important, and it is achievable in 2018…by committing to break down these barriers, we will send a tremendous signal in Africa and beyond, that it is no longer business as usual. Our people deserve a brighter future. Their sacrifice and hard work should be rewarded with better lives for families and communities,” said President Kagame.
“Our job is to make sure that every generation in Africa, enjoys a better life than the previous one…Young Africans are also professional men and women, and you have a full role to play. We cannot build Africa without you. For women especially, we need to unreservedly accord them their full rights and roles.”
The other members elected for the AU bureau are: First Vice Chair Faiz El Saraj, President of the Presidential Council of Libya (North Africa), Second Vice Chair Jacob Zuma, President of the Republic of South Africa and Third Vice Chair Denis Sassou Nguesso, President of the Republic of Congo (Central Africa).