The Sunday Mail
As we speak, African Heads of State are in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for the 28th Ordinary Summit of the African Union, getting ready to map yet another fruitful year for the continent. President Mugabe, that beacon of excellence whose policies are emulated by many other African leaders, is amongst them, taking again the opportunity to share his wisdom with them.
The Summit, which runs from January 30 to 31, is themed “Harnessing the demographic dividend through investment in the youth”.
The rights of women were intensively dealt with last year, and it is now time to harness the potential of the continent’s youth, our future leaders.
The past moulds the future.
Therefore, as we embark on this year’s journey, we reflect on the pledges made by President Idriss Deby Itno of the Republic of Chad as he took office as the Chair of the African Union in January last year.
In his acceptance speech, President Deby highlighted that he would pursue human rights with a particular focus on the rights of women, which was in line with the AU’s 2016 theme.
The continent saw a lot of movement in that area last year; significant progress has been recorded in closing gender gaps in Africa. Apart from that, the continent has also made considerable strides in implementing the AU’s Agenda 2063 with a view to placing Africa as a key player in the world arena.
South Africa’s Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma steered the African Union Commission in this course for the four years that she was leading the secretariat of the AU.
We wish her well in her future endeavours and may the best candidate succeed her during the 28th Ordinary Summit so that Africa can achieve more.
Since 1963 when African states established the Organisation of African Unity – now AU – the dream of an integrated and harmonised body is slowly but surely being realised. The expectations of the continental body are understandably vast. Member States have committed to achieving them bit by bit, and the roadmap for the African Union’s vision, better known as Agenda 2063, is our guide.
Among other objectives, Agenda 2063 seeks to facilitate continental free trade by 2017 to double intra-trade by 2022; establish African financial institutions to accelerate integration and socio-economic development of the continent; introduce an African passport to fast track integration by enhancing free movement by all African citizens by 2018; and silencing the guns by 2020 to end all wars and conflicts.
The ball is already in motion with regards to the African passport which will free the movement of Africa’s citizens and improve trade.
Clearly, Africa knows where it wants to be by 2063.
But as the African leaders converge for this crucial annual meeting, they need to ask each other some very difficult questions and answer them honestly.
That will propel Africa even further.
Are we on the right trajectory?
Does the pace that we are moving with in attaining our goals resonate well with destination 2063?
Is each Member State playing its part efficiently?
What are we doing right and what are we doing wrong?
The destiny of Africans lies in the discussions that will commence tomorrow. The African leaders’ deliberations will determine whether Africa succeeds or fails; unites or disintegrates.
Meanwhile, war has been ravaging some parts of Africa regardless of the scores recorded in other areas.
The Boko Haram menace in north-eastern Nigeria continues despite President Muhammadu Buhari’s government’s sustained efforts at peace and security.
Other conflict hotspots include the Central African Republic, eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia and South Sudan.
According to Agenda 2063, the guns simply need to be silenced now so that all Member States can focus on continental development.
The African leaders are expected to make this objective come to reality sooner rather than later.
It is encouraging that over the years, Africa has become more peaceful with some civil wars dying down.
It will get even better as long as Africa remains mindful of the international community’s eagerness to “help out” during scuffles.
We all know what happened to Libya.