Africa on track with peace, prosperity, says AU chief

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e=”margin-bottom: 0.5em”>via Zambia Daily Mail by Online Editor on 5/23/13

nkosazana-dlamini-zumaFrom CHARLES MUSONDA in Addis Ababa

AFRICAN Union Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma says Africa is taking off towards peace and prosperity just like in 1963 when founding states took their first steps to political independence.

“In 1963, several African countries were at par or had higher GDP rates than Asian countries. Again in 2013, African countries constitute the majority of the top 10 fastest growing economies in the world; and between 2001 and 2010, African GDP growth matched that of Asia at 4.4 percent per annum.

“Africa’s growth has now averaged five percent per year for more than a decade, higher than at any other period since the early 70s,” Dr Dlamini-Zuma said here on Wednesday during the official opening of the 23rd Ordinary Session of the AU Executive Council.

She said consensus remains that Africa is heading in the right direction and the reasons for this optimism include Africa’s natural resources- its unused arable land and water, its potential for energy generation and its long coastlines rich in marine resources.

Dr Dlamini-Zuma said Africa’s comprehensive good governance, peace and security architectures make it possible for the continent to promote and strengthen democratic elections, governance and popular participation.

At the same event, United Nations Under Secretary General Carlos Lopes said Africa should review the nature of its relations with all others in the international community.

“This means insisting on more profitable partnerships to reinforce the structural transformation of the continent. It means better negotiation of contracts.

It means the ability to attract capital by dispelling myths and misunderstanding of conditions in the continent. It means saying enough when any endeavour is not in favour of Africa. It means Africa first,” Mr Lopes said.

He said Africa needs to be off-radar with regards to conflicts be them inter-state, civil wars and insurgencies, terrorism, piracy and the like.

“This means better governance across the board. It means that we have to stem illicit financial flows and ensure participatory governance. To be candid, some of these conflict and governance issues continue to define Africa in the eyes of the outside world,” he said.

And Ethiopia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it is encouraging that the number of conflicts ravaging the continent has slowly subsided with the exception of few pockets of conflict in some parts of Africa.

“We need to build on these achievements as we strive to advance our transformation agenda over the next decades. I believe our priorities should be to ensure lasting peace and stability, deepen governance reforms as well as accelerate economic growth and industrialisation, with a view to laying a solid foundation for Africa’s renaissance,” he said.