Top officials appraise AU's first decade in existence

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) - Reviewing the first 10 years of existence of the African Union (AU) at a meeting of its Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC) here, top officials say the organisation had faced ‘serious challenges, regional dynamics and economic upheavals,’ which climaxed with the Arab rebellion in North Africa’in 2011, but which have given the continent a better chance to grow.

AU Commission’s Deputy Chairperson Erastus Mwencha, said 10 years since the transformation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) into the AU, most African countries had passed through a difficult period, which dictates that the continent adjusts to the new situation and transform itself positively.

“We need to move with speed to take advantage of the opportunities given to us,” Mwencha said in reference to the increased attention that the AU has received since its formation, mostly marked with requests for collaboration with the various regions of the world and pledges to increase aid.

Mwencha said during the decade, African economies posted higher economic growth rates compared to other parts of the world, except China and India, due to the peace and sustained efforts to ensure peace and stability.

“African countries are implementing various plans for economic growth and infrastructure development. They are developing railways and roads to make Africa more connected. There is a turnaround of agriculture despite the challenges of drought in the Horn of Africa,” Mwencha said.

On peace and security during the past decade, Mwencha said “We have been on the ground to make sure that Africa is at peace. We have put in place mechanisms to ensure that this happens. Africa is largely at peace. We have hotspots which are a focus of this Summit,” echoing AU officials' belief that the deployment of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) was a key success.

Mwencha pointed out the creation of a new conflict plan, the African Governance Architecture, which he said emphasises on the building of friendships with the rest of other players involved in the peace and security efforts and demanding the reform of the UN to enable Africa to participate effectively.

“We have continued to build on human and financial capital in order to improve resource utilisation," the AU deputy chief said.

Also speaking at the PRC meeting, being attended by African ambassadors accredited to the AU, Commission Chairperson Jean Ping noted that at least seven countries in Africa recorded economic growth between 7% and 11%.

“This is very encouraging news. We are on upward trend,” he said, adding, however, that "problems still facing African included the upsurge of violent conflict in Cote d’Ivoire, which was resolved during the same year, poverty, gender imbalances and the high youth unemployment statistics."

“We have to build on these achievements by building on economic development,” Ping added.

The AU Chief said the drought in the Horn of Africa was likely to spread into the Sahel region, a potential warning to Niger, which has often endured the crisis of drought in the region.

Ping also regretted that African countries that made pledges during the Africa for Africans pledging conference to help Somalia overcome the hunger crisis, had failed to deliver on the pledges.

He said Africa was witnessing major changes on the political front in the fabric of African political culture, according to his Spokesperson Noureddine Mezni.

“Besides the wind of change blowing across North Africa, which some have dubbed the ‘Arab Spring,’ democratic elections are taking place all across the continent,” Ping was quoted as saying.

“Many of these countries are experiencing free and fair elections for the first time, while others are consolidating their democratic credentials,” he added.
-0- PANA AO/VAO 25Jan2012  

25 january 2012 16:54:07




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