By Amina Mohamed
The Africa we want
Africa is the cradle of humanity and home to the youngest population in the world. We have an historic opportunity to realize the full potential of our continent by sharing our earned prosperity, enhancing economic growth and promoting and entrenching democratic ideals.
The African Union Commission (AUC) must provide leadership. I strongly believe we can drive an agenda that realizes a common vision of integration, co-operation, collaboration and committed leadership. These ideals of widely shared prosperity are captured in the African Union’s blueprint: Agenda 2063 – The Africa We Want.
This blueprint has a clear roadmap for implementation. One of the critical areas is achieving synergy of member states through collaboration among the eight regional economic groupings and the AU’s strategic partners.
Africa’s markets must communicate with each other to harness trade and investment. Infrastructure deficits are an impediment towards this objective. We must secure seamless connectivity through people-to-people interactions, ICT (tech) and knowledge transfer throughout the continent. Hard infrastructure development should also be reinforced by more intra-Africa rail, road, air and water linkages.
Former Tanzanian president, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere once said: “together, we the people of Africa will be incomparably stronger internationally than we are now with our multiplicity of unviable states.” It is no longer tenable to keep talking of our great potential. It is time to make the African continent felt, heard and respected on the global scene.
For this to happen, Africa must take greater responsibility of financing its development and programs. Such has been the agreement by our finance and planning ministers since March 2015. Domestic resource mobilization is the strategic complement to foreign investment and official development assistance. Focused leadership at the AUC will guarantee that this decision is fully implemented.
In order to increase the financial resources available internally, industrialization and diversification remain crucial. More specifically, we need to harness our blue economy and fast-track the mining industry.
Africa has to build the capacity of our youthful population. In 2015, African youth aged 15 – 24 accounted for 19 percent of the global youth population, a figure that is projected to increase to 42 percent by 2030. This is a demographic dividend to parlay into Africa’s prosperity.
Women must also be fully enabled to play an inclusive role in all spheres of Africa’s development. Tapping into African talent will be the hallmark of my tenure.
The collective success of Agenda 2063 lies in creating an indomitable human force to resolve Africa’s challenges.
Every African citizen deserves a life of dignity free from harm, in order to promote social justice and the realization of their potential.
I am optimistic that together we can continue to create a continent that not only embodies our pride and dignity, but is also a hub for peace and stability.
Africa must also make its cultural diversity a cause for celebration. Cultural exchanges across the continent through education, travel and symposia will renew our pan-African ideals, especially among younger Africans.
The continent has made significant strides in expanding access to education and better health care. In order to shelter our population from extreme want, we ought to explore skills diversification and universal health coverage. Investing in value-addition through agro-processing will increase Africa’s global market share and help us attain collective food security and comparative advantage.
Going forward, we must remain in partnership with the rest of the world. Global challenges such as climate change will only be resolved through co-operation.
However, Africa remains most vulnerable to the effects of global warming. As such, we need to take serious mitigation and adaptation measures, utilize indigenous knowledge to generate local shared solutions and build resilient communities in addition to our continued demands for climate justice.
Thus, united by the vision of an independent Africa working for better lives of all its people, it is now time for the AUC to foster the realization of Africa’s full potential through transformative leadership harnessed by the AUC Secretariat.
Amina Mohamed is Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs and also a candidate for the leadership of the African Union Commission. The original version of this article was published in The East African.