Your Excellency, Ato Meles Zenawi,
Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic
Republic of Ethiopia, our Host,
Excellencies, Colleague Heads of State and Government,
Your Excellency, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon,
Secretary-General of the United Nations Organization,
Your Excellency, Prof. Alpha Oumar Konare,
Chairperson of the African Union Commission,
Your Excellency, Mr. Amr. Mousa,
Secretary-General of the League of Arab States,
Your Excellency, Mr. Yoshiro Mori,
High Representative of the Prime Minister of Japan,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the African Union and on my own behalf, I have great pleasure in welcoming you all to this august meeting of African Heads of State and Government.
First of all, I wish to seize this opportunity to thank our host, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, for the usual warm and cordial hospitality accorded us and the excellent facilities he continues to place at our disposal whenever we arrive in this beautiful city of Addis Ababa. Indeed, we appreciate this enormous support from our host.
In the same vein, we must commend our foreign partners, who are here in their numbers to support our efforts at charting a new course for Africa. We appreciate their support and cooperation in the Union’s efforts to advance the ideals and aspirations of the continent. In our chosen path of renaissance and transformation, Africa needs the support of all its friends and partners.
A year ago, in this very hall, I was given the distinct honour and privilege to preside over the affairs of the Union. As we gather here today we need to take stock of developments in our Union over the past year. We are faced with a clarion call by the sons and daughters of this great continent to make policies that would positively affect their livelihoods and enhance their pride as Africans. I have no doubt in my mind that we will live up to this noble task.
You will recall that at our Ninth Ordinary Session held in Accra, Ghana, last July 2007, we agreed, inter-alia, to accelerate the political and economic integration of the continent, including the formation of a Union Government for Africa.
The steps towards its achievement were to begin with an audit of the Union, its organs and institutions as well as the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) which have been accepted as the building blocks for the eventual Union. I recall proposing a committee of five comprising Gabon, Libya, Senegal, South Africa and Uganda, to oversee the work of the Ministerial Committee established under the Accra Declaration to identify, inter-alia, the contents of the Union Government concept and its relations with national Governments, the domains of competence and the impact of the Union Government on sovereign States, as well as the elaboration of a roadmap, together with timeframes, for the establishment of the Union Government.
In fulfillment of this mandate, I empanelled a 13-member Committee of eminent persons, under the Chairmanship of Prof. Adebayo Adedeji, to undertake the audit. At the same time a 10-Member Ministerial Committee was also set up to reflect on the issues that pertain to the formation of a Union Government. The report of the Audit Panel and that of the Ministerial Committee have since been made available to Member States. As mandated by the Accra Declaration the reports have been submitted to the Executive Council to make appropriate recommendations to the Assembly. The Executive Council will also report to the Assembly in due course. I crave the indulgence of the Assembly to permit the Chairman of the Audit Panel, Prof. Adebayo Adedeji, to brief the Assembly on its work.
The Commission has also provided its comments on the report, and the Chairperson of the Commission will also provide inputs for the consideration of the Assembly.
Both reports call for the involvement of the people and all stakeholders in the processes leading to the formation of the Union Government and indicate that there is an urgent need to popularize the Union at the national, regional and continental levels.
The reports also recommend the strengthening of the organs and institutions of the Union, particularly the Commission, to improve upon their efficiency and enhance their role in the achievement of our cherished goal of political and economic integration.
The deliberations of this all-important issue should be guided by pragmatism, transparency and constructiveness to ensure a successful outcome.
Our current Commission has served its tenure, and, as agreed in Accra in July last year, this is the time for electing a new Commission. As we approach this important task, I should point out that the whole process of auditing the organs of the Union and seeking improvement in the general administration and management processes towards unification means that the Union has come into a transitional phase. This should determine the sort of personnel we elect. We should, therefore, approach the election with this awareness so that the decisions we take provide the requisite management that will enhance the unification process. In this regard, perhaps, we should redefine the role of the leadership of the Commission to make it clear-cut as the pivot around which the other organs will revolve.
In the area of peace and security on the continent, it is gratifying to note the positive developments in Sierra Leone and Liberia, which are now experiencing relative peace after several years of conflict and relentless war. However, in places like Anjouan in Comoros, Darfur in Sudan, the Eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Somalia, we should intensify our efforts, along side our international partners to bring peace and succour to the suffering peoples.
It is my painful duty, in this connection, to refer to recent developments in Kenya, a prosperous and stable country in Africa, which got embroiled in conflict after its recent presidential and parliamentary elections. In response to an invitation by both President Mwai Kibaki and Mr. Raila Odinga I visited Kenya, in my capacity as Chair of the African Union, to find out how to assist them to arrest the violence there and encourage them to use dialogue to resolve their differences. To this end,
I proposed three principles of engagement which were accepted by both sides, and which were an immediate cessation of violence, resort to dialogue, and the acceptance of a panel of eminent Africans lead by Mr. Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations, and including Mr. Benjamin Mkapa, the former President of the United Republic of Tanzania, and our Sister Madam Graca Machel. The Panel is currently on the ground in Kenya and has already managed to get the two sides to appoint their respective negotiating teams to sit at table to state their points of differences causing the ongoing conflicts. I invite the Assembly to commend the efforts of the Panel and to express support for its continued engagement to help end the conflict in our sister Republic, on basis of short to long terms.
In the course of the year, I am happy to report that I visited the Pan-African Parliament as well as the Headquarters of NEPAD in South Africa, to learn, first hand, about what may be described as their teething problems. The Assembly should lend them a listening ear. Similarly last year, the AU Headquarters here, was pleased to receive German Chancellor, Dr. Angela Merkel, whose country at the period, held the Presidency of the European Union. Several issues came up for discussion during her visit, notably Germanys commitment to assist the AU in the establishment of an Early Warning System to monitor the security situation of the continent on a continuous basis. I was also happy, during the visit, to cut the sod for the commencement of the construction of our new Conference Complex, donated by the government of the Peoples Republic of China.
In our relations with our external partners, Africa continued to participate in the Summit of the Eight Industrialized countries, (G8), the most recent of which was held in Germany. At that meeting we secured specific commitments in respect of achieving of the Millennium Development Goals in Africa. In this connection, issues related to peace and security, sustainable investment, good governance and improving health systems, fighting HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria as well as innovative financing initiatives were placed high on the agenda of the G8.
Furthermore, after a break of about seven years, the Africa-EU dialogue was revived at the meeting held in Lisbon, Portugal in December 2007, in which all African countries participated. At that meeting, we were able to strengthen and revitalize our cooperation on the basis of a Joint-Strategy and Plan of Action for the coming years.
The theme for this year’s Summit is “Industrial Development of Africa”. As you all know the achievement of an accelerated and sustainable socio-economic development of Africa is one of the cardinal objectives of the African Union, as stipulated in the Constitutive Act of the Union, the NEPAD Programme and the Strategic Plan of Action of the African Union Commission.
In spite of the efforts made so far in this direction, Africa’s share of global manufacturing is still regrettably less than 1 per cent. There is, therefore, the urgent need to resolve the paradox of widespread poverty on the continent in the midst of its rich natural endowments by engaging in an aggressive industrialization process.
Africa should not lack in the provision of abundant energy supplies, nor a steady and reliable network of satellite communication systems, which are some of the necessary infrastructure for industrialization. In this connection, the Union might consider the adoption of the Inga Project of Congo, well studied to have the potential of generating around 40,000 megawatts of energy, and also encourage the launch of satellite networks around the continent. Commendably, Nigeria and Libya are showing leadership in this direction.
I appeal to the Assembly to give serious attention to the issue of industrialization of the African continent and engage in a dispassionate debate so as to give the necessary guidance and direction to our Union and its organs.
I was humbled by the immense responsibility placed on my shoulders in January 2006 to chair this august body.
I appreciate the goodwill and assistance that I have received from all of you during my year as chair of our Union. As my tenure of office comes to an end, I wish to request you all to give as much support to my successor, to enable him to provide the necessary leadership to the Union in its resolve to pursue our collectively determined goal of continental Union Government for Africa while tackling the numerous conflicts and pandemic diseases that bedevil our continent.
On the personal level, I cannot but express my deepest gratitude to you all for the opportunity to serve Africa in this capacity at a period which coincided with Ghana’s Golden Jubilee. As I move closer to the end of my term in office as President of the Republic of Ghana at the end of 2008, I consider this privilege even more as a Crowning Glory in my political career for which I shall remain immensely grateful to you all.
Our people continue to look up to us for inspiration, leadership and improvement in their daily lives. We must not, and should not fail them.
Finally, Excellencies and dear Colleagues let us all commit ourselves to making the 21st century the century of Africa’s Renaissance.
Source Ghanaian Government
Category: Kufuor Speech