Addis Ababa — African Union leaders should spur confidence in ordinary citizens by responding to their needs effectively, President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi has said.
He was speaking Sunday at the 33rd AU heads of state and government summit held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Africans, President Masisi said, looked up to leaders to deliver citizens from challenges including abject poverty, diseases and gross human rights abuses.
He said it was essential to find lasting solutions to conflicts ravaging some parts of the continent.
"It is a fact that in the absence of peace and security, our aspirations as a continent will remain a figment of imagination," he said.
The President called on continental organisations to be effective as they had the potential to address the myriad of challenges slowing down Africa's development efforts.
In addition, he called for collective determination with respect to continental bodies and regional economic communities towards attainment of Agenda 2063.
President Masisi's speech followed the ascension to AU chairpersonship of South Africa's president, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa. He succeeds Egyptian president, Mr Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
Dr Masisi congratulated Mr Ramaphosa pledging "you can count on my full support and that of my government during your tenure of office".
He also commended the outgoing chairperson for the sterling job he did during his tenure.
Among Mr Fattah el-Sisi's achievements, he said, was the successful launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area and marshalling of the programme for infrastructure development in Africa.
For his part, Mr Ramaphosa said his key priorities would be to enhance progress achieved under the African Decade of Action.
"We would like to deepen our work together to ensure that unity of the continent is solid," he said.
He encouraged leaders to work collectively to ensure political and economic unity, good governance, integration, industrialisation and economic development as well as trade and investment.
Mr Ramaphosa said African leaders should shoulder the responsibility of ensuring that the continent's rich resources were marshalled for the benefit of all citizens.
He noted that Africa was rich in natural resources, history, intellectual output, culture, sense of humanity and African capital.
"We should ensure that our blessings do not become our curse and that our endowment does not become our downfall," he said.
African leaders were also implored to build an Africa that was capable, through infrastructure connectivity of vast road and railway network, to enable free movement of goods, people and services.
Another speaker, UN secretary general, Mr Antonio Guterres said this year's theme; Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Environment for Africa's Development, was not only about peace and security but covered sustainable development and human rights.
He identified three challenges which needed to be addressed as a matter of urgency including poverty eradication, climate crisis and guns in the continent.
Mr Guterres commended AU for completing the first report at country level on the 10-year implementation plan of Agenda 2063 describing it as a key milestone to the realisation of the 'Africa we Want.'
Significant improvements in living standards, including access to quality education, health care, food security, basic social services and infrastructure were some of the visible achievements thus far, he said.
Source : BOPA