Panafrican News Agency

AU Summit begins, seeks rapid industrialization to fight poverty

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) - African leaders opened the 20th session of the African Union (AU) Assembly on Sunday, with calls to urgently tackle rapid poverty, advance democracy and re-examine economic growth models to spur industrial growth.

AU Commission President Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, told the African leaders to shun the business as usual attitude in dealing with issues of industrialization, warning that countries that stood on the same level with Africa have advanced faster.

"We must develop our own economic growth narrative and challenge the existing paradigms," Dlamini Zuma said, noting that Africa had developed the necessary ingredients to advance its economies and step into an industrialised future.

Six of the world's 10 fastest growing economies, Dlamini-Zuma said, were in Africa, while the continent's youthful population had inspired a micro-finance revolution through the introduction of mobile-phone-based money transfer services.

The AU Commission chief said the Information, Technology and Communication (ICT) Revolution sweeping across Africa, the existence of large tracks of farmlands and the vast mineral wealth and an educated population, should support rapid industrialization.

Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama, told the Summit that despite going through a rough period in its history, African economies had shown adequate promise.

"With Africa's unprecedented technology, we should be inspired to move forward," the Ghanaian President said.

"We cannot remain trapped in the grim episodes of our past or the situation in Mali, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The dreams that inspired our founding fathers should inspire us to achieve progress sought by our leaders," he added.

The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said although African countries were recording rapid growth, which is projected to even progress beyond the 5% average for the past decade, poverty remained a key challenge and must be addressed.

"I am concerned about millions of Africans living in poverty. That is why we are pushing for results. We are looking beyond the 2015 Millennium Development Goals and a High Level Panel will meet in Monrovia, Liberia, to discuss post-2015," Ban said.

The UN chief warned African leaders to take precautions, especially by addressing the inequality in their societies, which he said was a recipe for instability.
The Summit prepared to welcome the newly-elected Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who attended his first full Summit as the Ethiopian Prime Minister and who was unanimously endorsed to take over as AU Chairman.

"Africa has shown an economic growth of 6% clearly above the world average even if this is not adequate to fight poverty. I pray 2013 would be a year of fulfillment of the African ambition," said Thomas Yayi Boni, the outgoing Chairman of the African Union.

The leaders also discussed the conflicts in Mali and the DRC.
-0- PANA AO/VAO 27Jan2013