Addis Ababa — A meeting between Commission Chairperson, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and the African Union Partners Group (AUPG) today Friday 2 November 2012, in the AU headquarters, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, heard that although peace and security activities currently loom largest among the activities of the AU Commission (AUC), they have to go hand in hand with efforts at development.
“In the long term, to guarantee stability, we have to have development”, said the AU Chairperson. She warned that, without development, even stable countries can become unstable as citizens become restless.
Peace and security, health, education, youth development, women’s empowerment, trade, infrastructural development, institutional capacity building and communication were outlined as some of the priority areas of the African Union Commission, as it seeks to drive the African integration and development process, as defined by the African Union.
Health and education were highlighted as “foundations of development”.
Associated to that, in the Commission’s view, is the empowerment of women, with the Chairperson stressing the negative effects of the very high maternal mortality in Africa. In this regard, “Survival of the mother is important not just for her own sake, but also for her family, especially young children whose future would be compromised without a mother”, said the Chairperson. But the AUC Chairperson envisages women’s development going further than just survival - to their active and equal participation in all sectors of the economy as well as their fair representation in decision making positions.
In terms of trade, the Commission is promoting intra African trade.
Currently, intra African trade constitutes only 10% of the continent’s trade, with more focus being given to trade with countries on other continents. However, many obstacles to trade need to be removed before meaningful intra African trade can take place. Such obstacles include inadequate infrastructure, exporting raw materials with little or no value addition, lack of diversity in products and regulations that impede trade.
With a view to the rapid industrialization of Africa, the Commission views adoption of science as a priority. In this respect, the Pan African University with its 5 campuses, each concentrating on a specific scientific pursuit, is expected to move the continent forward, by giving the requisite knowledge and skills to African people.
Dr Dlamini Zuma’s address to the partners emphasized, as well, the importance of building the capacity of the AUC so that it will be better able to deliver on its commitments.
The AUC Chairperson strongly accentuated the need for Africa to communicate more effectively to citizens and outsiders about her developments and progress. It is only through communication, the Chairperson said, that citizens will understand the work of the AU and therefore give it their full support. However, she noted the inadequate budgets allocated to communication and urged more funding for communication activities.
Speaking about the input of the partners to the budget of the AU programmes, Dr. Dlamini Zuma expressed her appreciation for the support rendered to the organization ever since it was the Organisation of African Unity. She also underscored that the Commission would like to see Africa make a more significant contribution to the African Union’s budget, in spite of its limited resources.
According to the Co-Chairperson of the African Union Partners Group, the groups aims to facilitate dialogue between partners and the African Union, to realize fruitful cooperation, and to promote dialogue and communication.