South Africa: Aspiring AU chairperson Bathily says Africa lacks 'vigorous private sector'

Johannesburg, South Africa (PANA) - One of the leading contenders for the African Union chairperson position, Senegalese diplomat Abdoulaye Bathily, has strongly argued that public and private economic players must "pull together" to build an "African social base" for the development of the country.

Speaking to the African News Agency in Johannesburg, he said: “Africa is lacking a vigorous private sector. There must be free movement of people and goods in Africa.”

This vision of Professor Bathily is in line with the shared AU vision 2063 which seeks to steer the continent towards higher social, political, economic and cultural levels.

He is in South Africa on the fourth leg of a tour of African countries that has also taken him to Morocco, Madagascar and Mozambique to lobby for votes ahead of the election that will see the replacement of Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as AU chairperson in January.

Professor Bathily, 69, who taught African history at universities for four decades, had been a UN diplomat, foreign minister, member of parliament and leader of a leftist political party in Senegal, said his message was simple: “Africa must unite” to be able to overcome perennial problems of joblessness and poverty.

He said Africa needed "trans-corporations to put capital together” in order to fund infrastructure projects on the continent.

At present, Professor Bathily, who describes himself as "an African first before being a Senegalese", noted, about 70 percent of the AU bills were paid for from donor funds from abroad.

“This time Africa cannot continue to depend on foreign donors.”

He said as many as 63 percent of Africa’s young educated people could not get jobs because there was slow development and limited industrialisation.

“We also need to develop our human capacity” to be able to use money properly and for the purpose it has been budgeted for.

Prof. Bathily said he was aware Rwandan President Paul Kagame was leading an African Union finance reform team, which had come up with a finance plan.

He said US$1.2 billion could be raised through a 0.2 percent tax on imports from outside the continent, if President Kagame’s reform plan was put into practice, adding that should he win the race, he would ”have to see that this programme is implemented”.

“Dlamini-Zuma has done a lot … I would want to keep the momentum,” he said.

Apart from Bathily, there are four other candidates – Botswana’s Dr Pelonomi Moitoi, Kenyan Foreign Affairs cabinet secretary Amina Mohamed, former Ugandan Vice President Specioza Wandira Kazibwe and Equatorial Guinea Foreign Minister Agapito Mba Mokuy.

Dlamini-Zuma was to have bowed out last July, but the candidates were said not to have made the votes in the elections held in Kigali, Rwanda on 17-18 July.

Kazibwe, Moitoi and Mba Mokuy failed to garner the required two-thirds majority vote and as a result Dlamini-Zuma, who declined a second term, was asked to continue in the role until January 2017. All three are contesting again.

Professor Bathily is travelling with a Senegalese delegation that includes the foreign minister, Mankeur Ndiaye.
-0- PANA MA 30Nov2016

30 november 2016 19:33:21




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