18 February 2013

Africa Is Equal to the Task of Achieving Prosperity and Peace in the Next Fifty Years - AU Commission Chairperson

Beijing — As the AUC Chairperson continues her working visit to China, in the framework of the 5th round of strategic dialogue between Africa and China, she re-emphasised today, that the two parties will continue to work together in a mutually beneficial way.

In a wide ranging interview with China Central Television (CCTV), Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma restated that the strategic partnership between the two sides takes place under the framework of the Forum for China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), where the two sides discuss issues of mutual interest and exchange views on how to work together.

In the interview, the Chairperson stressed that as Africa celebrates 50 years of the formation of the Organisation of African Unity in May this year, it will use this opportunity to formulate strategies that will see it industrialize and be peaceful. She was upbeat about the prospects of achieving this vision.

"We are equal to the task. This is our century- a century for the developing countries", she declared.

To achieve the vision, Dr Dlamini Zuma underscored the need for the continent to move away from simply trading in raw and natural materials, to exporting finished goods. Currently, Africa's contribution to international trade is negligible, estimated at only 3 percent of the total, even as it trades in raw materials. Trade among African countries is also low, estimated at between 10 and 12 percent. Dr Dlamini Zuma went on to emphasise the need to develop infrastructure, develop human resources, promote tourism, develop skills among the youth, encourage investment and attain peace, among others. The attainment of the AU vision, the Chairperson added, will also come about as a result of concerted efforts by all Africans and all institutions of the African Union, working towards the same agenda.

Dr Dlamini Zuma spoke strongly about the need for African women to be in leadership positions and to be empowered to take an active and equal part in the development of the continent.

"Women must be in decision making positions in politics and in government because that is where critical decisions are taken about day to day life", she encouraged.

But, she continued, that women should also be in business, in the judiciary, in academia and in all aspects of life. However, legal provisions alone will not resolve the inequalities in society. She observed that the attitudes of both the men and the women have to change and that a multifaceted approach is required to bring about the necessary change.

On peace and security, the Chairperson shared the view that the best way to resolve conflicts is to understand and resolve the underlying causes. She also emphasized that the primary responsibility for peace and security lies with the UN Security Council. However, Africa greatly assists the United Nations Security Council's efforts to ensure global peace, by deploying troops and undertaking different initiatives in an effort to resolve or avoid conflicts on the continent. In this respect, she announced that Africa is not only deploying troops to Mali, but that many of the continent's countries also pledged different forms of support at a pledging conference held on the 29th of January at the African Union in Ethiopia. She also referred to the current efforts to operationalise the Africa Standby Force, which will enable the continent to respond timeously in cases of need.

The AUC Chairperson is in China until the 17th of February. Her visit is intended to strengthen partnership between Africa and China and to promote bilateral cooperation. She is accompanied on the visit by the AUC's Commissioner for Economic Affairs Dr Maxwell Mkwezalamba, the Commissioner of Infrastructure and Energy Dr Mrs. Elham Mahmoud Ibrahim, as well as senior officials from the Commission.

The Chairperson's interview will be broadcast on CCTV at a date and time to be confirmed.

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