Mabasa Sasa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Africa must stop exports of raw minerals and invest in value addition to unlock real value of its natural endowment for its people, African Union Commission Chair Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has said.
At the opening of the 26th Ordinary Summit of the AU yesterday, Dr Dlamini-Zuma also decried restrictions on movement of Africans within Africa, and called on the continental leadership to come up with measures to address this matter.
She said, “We have allowed for far too long the diversity of our lands, soil, workforce, oceans and forests to be taken away as raw materials, thus exporting jobs and supplementary revenue streams, along with the means of our development.”
Dr Dlamini-Zuma also said, “Deep in the bowels of the continent, African workers are slaving in the bauxite, industrial diamonds, manganese, phosphate rock, platinum group metals, gold and zirconium mines, which represent the largest or second-largest reserves of these important minerals.
“The miners of at least 16 countries are involved in the extraction of precious metals; moreover, 13 of them in the diamonds and a further six as copper producers. The largest producer of coltan, essential to modern technology such as cellphones, laptops and tablets, is in Africa.
“Many African countries extract iron ore, while the majority of iron deposits still lie dormant in other countries. In addition … we are also home to the world’s largest extractors of chrome, manganese, vanadium and vermiculite; and the second-largest extractors of limonite, palladium and rutile. More than 85 percent of global phosphate reserves are located in North Africa.
“Furthermore, the majority of Africans remain in the dark and yet we have 26 oil and gas producing countries, and 18 countries that extract uranium. We also have an abundance of sun, wind, geothermal and hydro to power our renewable energies which are necessary for Africa’s transformation.”
She said it was crucial to “resolve this ironic paradox” that characterised Africa as a rich continent with poor people.
“We must also utilise the splendour of our landscapes, our long coastlines and beaches, mountains, lakes, wildlife and heritage to expand domestic and intra-Africa tourism.
“We continue to welcome tourism from outside the continent, but for the over one billion Africans to visit (other countries in) Africa, we ask our Heads of State to consider the change proposed by the Executive Council to allow Africans 30-day visa entry on arrival in all member states.”
In his last attendance of the AU Summit as United Nations Secretary-General, Mr Ban Ki-Moon spoke of need to ensure Africa’s Agenda 2063 was diligently pursued for the sake of development
He also underscored the importance of respecting human rights, indicating his pleasure that this matter was at the core of the AU’s activities for 2016.
Another guest speaker, President Mahmoud Abbas of Palestine, signalled his country’s readiness to structure mutually beneficial multilateral relations.
He also thanked the African Union for its continued support for a two-state solution in Palestine’s battle for sovereignty with Israel.
“Palestine always received the support of your people and countries, and will also support the demands of Africa for the reform of the Security Council of the Nations, and its demand to have permanent membership in the Security Council, as well as its efforts to bring peace to all parts of the continent,” President Abbas said.
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