Africa focus to be on development
Updated: 2016-07-14 20:58
By Lucie Morangi in Kigali, Rwanda(chinadaily.com.cn)
The 29th ordinary session of the executive council of the African Union (AU) opened on Wednesday with a call to put African people first.
In her opening remarks, the chairperson of the AU Commission Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma decried the recent degeneration of peace in South Sudan saying it was time investment in arms took a back seat over development.
"We count the cost in civilian and peacekeepers lives lost, in homes destroyed when they were rebuilt not long ago, in our girls abducted, in leadership and opposition that have resources to purchase tanks helicopter gunships, mortars and rocket propelled grenade, which are used against the people when there are no resources to buy food and medicine. This summit must say, enough is enough," she said.
Two Chinese peacekeepers were killed over the weekend when they were patrolling near a refugee camp.
Zuma said this year's summit running under the theme on human rights must spur governments into action to intervene in conflict situations before they spiral into violence.
"Silencing the guns requires a different approach to peace and security. Since majority of our countries are peaceful, we must continue to resolutely focus on Agenda 2063 priorities such as building energy, road, rail and ICT infrastructure, to power and connect homes and industries; expanding agriculture and agro processing, investing in the health, skills and education of our people, especially Africa's children and youths.”
She urged the executive council that is composed of foreign affairs ministers to promote cooperation amongst neighbors and countries to drive the Pan African agenda.
"It is as a direct result of this Pan African catalyst role of the executive council that we are able to move a step forward at this summit, to present the African passport and we hope to also move forward on the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA)," said the AUC chair.
The African Union passport will allow citizens visa-free travel in the 54 member countries while the CTFTA allows free movement of people, products, services and investments across the borders.
Carlos Lopes, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of Economic Commission of Africa (ECA) said migration of people has become an international trend.
"In fact, most Africans who migrate do so to other African countries. The continent has the highest intra-continent migration levels in the entire world. Human mobility, despite the many limitations that impede regional integration, is progressing well in Africa. In the light of new demographic shifts, young Africans communicate, have better access to transport and feel less of a sense of territorial rigidity than their parents," he said in his speech.
Carlos said official statistics show 250 million people currently live outside their countries of origin. "China has produced close to 10 million migrants in the recent economic boom period. Africans will certainly continue to migrate despite high growth. Indians moving to the United Arab Emirates are no different. Mexicans go the US, Indonesians to Australia, also despite high growth."
The executive director says this trends show no sign of slowing down as labor demand in China and other developed countries soar in the backdrop of increasing aging population and wages. "Africa is the repository of youth and this is where the global labor force lies."
He called for a paradigm shift in relations to citizenship by birth saying that it does not respond to logic, rights or even decency. "There is a need to get out of this conundrum."
The week-long summit is bringing more than 3,000 delegates into Kigali where among other things, new AU commissioners are expected to be voted in.
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