30 January 2014

Africa: Uhuru Roots for an African Army

Photo: African Union Commission
Arrival of the New Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Addis Ababa — President Uhuru Kenyatta has challenged African countries to scale up their contribution to peace and stability in the continent.

He backed the call made by the African Ministers of Defence for all countries to meet their obligations in ensuring an African Standby Force is ready for deployment by 2015.

"Our partners and friends have been of great help to us. But to rely on outside help for our security would be to sully our independence. In any case, the help is often inadequate to our needs, and its application inflexible," President Kenyatta said.

He was addressing the 22nd Ordinary Session of the African Union Heads of State and Government Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Thursday.

As part of Kenya's 50th anniversary and an expression of solidarity with the continent's determination to secure its future, President Kenyatta announced a voluntary contribution of $1 million (Sh86 million) to the AU Peace Fund.

He said the contribution may be used to make a reality the 'Exercise Amani Africa' and to set up the African Standby Force.

"Whichever way it is used, we have made concrete our commitment to solidarity and peace in this time of conflict," President Kenyatta said.

On the Central Africa Republic and South Sudan, the President said the conflicts have reminded the continent of the need to galvanise support to pre-empt political differences before they deteriorate into full-blown wars.

"These conflicts, so near to us, remind us that we must join hands with our neighbours to prevent them from breaking, and respond to them when they do break, as occasionally they will," the President said.

He disclosed that with partners in East Africa, Kenya is building a Rapid Deployment Capability as part of the East Africa Standby Force. The President said his Government has already a fully-fledged Rapid Deployment Capability to be activated in emergencies.

"It is not enough - the full value of this capacity will be realised only when all our states stand equivalent capabilities, and can meet any threat to our nations, regions and the continent quickly, firmly and judiciously," he said.

Saying Africans are reviving the promise of prosperity in regional and continental cooperation, President Kenyatta said the countries should use the bonds of solidarity to defend their legacy.

On agriculture and food security, the President commended African countries' efforts to free themselves from foreign domination by ensuring self-reliance in food production.

"More than 30 of us have committed ourselves to spend 10 percent of GDP on our agricultural sectors," the President said.

He said innovation in science and technology has improved production, citing the example of tissue culture, which has doubled banana yields and tripled the yield per hectare in Kenya.

"No one can deny our progress. No one can deny that much remains to be done. The broad shape of the road ahead is clear. We have proven adept users of markets, information and new technologies. Let us put them to use in delivering ourselves from hunger," President Kenyatta said.

In his address, Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, the incoming AU Chairman, said for most African countries, agriculture constitutes "the development battlefield where the war on poverty, hunger and indignity could be won".

"The agenda of agricultural transformation is strategically positioned to provide enormous opportunities for inclusive and sustainable development in Africa," he said.

The AU Chairman said following the adoption of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) in 2003, the continent has made significant strides in agricultural growth targets.

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