Pretoria — African Union Commission chairperson, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, has hit the ground running in 2013, outlining the commission's major points of focus as the new year begins.
"The commission is aware of the challenges that lie ahead of us, as well as of the need to consolidate the gains that have been made thus far.
"The commission will do everything in its power to advance the continental agenda, building on the achievements registered so far. Africa is on the right track. United we are strong," said Dlamini Zuma in her New Year statement.
Acknowledging the strides made in 2012, Dlamini Zuma said the development outlook for the continent was bright as Africa was now considered the next growth pole.
"A number of countries inched closer to their development goals by registering impressive growth rates, some of which were in excess of 10%. Other countries discovered new sources of wealth in the form of minerals, oil and other deposits.
"Good governance became the norm in many countries. In Somalia, the country has entered a post-conflict reconstruction and development phase.
"In September, African mediation resulted in the signing of a historic agreement between Sudan and South Sudan," she noted.
2013 is set to mark a momentous occasion for the continent: the 50th anniversary of the formation of the Organisation of African Unity, and 11 years of the launch of the African Union.
The AUC chair said the commission was ready to celebrate this auspicious event.
"It will be an opportunity to reflect on where we come from, appreciate where we are, and plan for where we are going in the next 50 years.
"In this regard, a long-term African Union-wide strategic framework is under development. Similarly, the four-year AU Commission Strategy (2013-2017) is being finalised," said Dlamini Zuma.
The continent will also enjoy the latest edition of the Africa Cup of Nations, which will be hosted in South Africa. Dlamini Zuma said the tournament was an opportunity for Africa and its citizens to come together as players and spectators.
"It will also be an opportunity to demonstrate the spirit of fair play, courage, respect for diversity and determination. More importantly, soccer as a catalyst for change will bring together communities across borders, races, colour, religion and language."
Despite the positives, the AUC chair was cognisant of the challenges that lay ahead.
"We are still dealing with conflict situations that derail the continent's march towards development. The situations in Mali, the Central African Republic, and the DRC require our continued attention and resolution."
She said the AU was more steadfast in its agenda of monitoring elections across Africa. For the first time, the AUC will send a Long Term Observer (LTO) Expert Mission to the scheduled 4 March 2013 General Elections in the Republic of Kenya.
On the programmatic front, Dlamini Zuma said they were ready to launch the Pan African University.
Efforts to harmonise infrastructure development were also well underway under the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA).
Environmental and climate change matters, Dlamini Zuma said, were also major priorities for the AU.
In terms of health, the AU would focus particularly on maternal and child health, under the Campaign for Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Africa (CARMMA) and on fighting the scourges of HIV, tuberculosis and malaria.
She said the commission would also continue to aim to achieve 50-50 parity in its employment structures, ensuring that women attained decision-making positions. They would advocate for women's development across the continent on the back of the African Women's Decade.
"Women constitute more than 50% of the continent's population and their engagement in all spheres of human endeavor is imperative," she said.
The AUC chair thanked the Heads of State and Government of the AU member states, and African citizens for their support.
"I would also like to thank the management and staff of the African Union Commission for their unparalleled commitment to our continent."