Africa is experiencing a turning point

19 Nov 2013 08:30am
KUWAIT, 19 NOV (NAMPA) – The Third Afro-Arab Summit takes place in changing regional and global contexts, when there are challenges and yet great opportunities facing the region.
This was the view of African Union Commission chairperson Dr Nkosazana Dlamini- Zuma here on Sunday.
The summit is taking place here from 19 to 20 November 2013.
It aims to highlight the true friendship and cooperation between the two regions, and will also focus on boosting cooperation in the fields of politics, economy, investments and partnerships between civil society institutions.
It will also include further coordination of the Arab-African positions towards political issues of common interest, especially regional security and peace.
Speaking at the Third Afro-Arab Summit Meeting of the Joint Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Dlamini-Zuma said “Africa on the one hand is experiencing a turning point. Over the last decade, we have seen growing economies, reduction in the number of conflicts and improved governance”.
She added that the region is also making progress on human development indicators, with life expectancy being up from 40 to 60 years.
“We have halved infant and maternal mortality, absolute poverty is on the decline and there are more children in schools - including girls - than at any time in our history,” she beamed.
However, to sustain this momentum, Africa must transform its economies by diversifying, industrializing, beneficiating and using its natural resources more effectively to ensure job-creation, raise incomes and share prosperity.
The continent also needs to speed up infrastructural development, energy, transport, information communication technology (ICT) as well as social infrastructure in order to improve intra-African trade and global trade.
“We must expand agricultural productivity, and build agro-processing industries in order to feed ourselves and the world, moving from a net- importer of food to a net-exporter,” she encouraged.
All these priority areas are closely linked to the continental integration efforts and programmes to increase intra-African trade and tourism.
Above all and as an absolute precondition is the investment in and empowerment of Africa’s young people and women, Dlamini-Zuma noted.
“These two groups are the majority of our one-billion population, and are the drivers of Africa’s efforts for prosperity, peace and innovation,” she added.
“Thus, in the year that Africa is celebrating 50 years since the founding of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), (now the African Union – AU) we are looking ahead at the next 50 years towards a future when Africa will be people- centred, prosperous and at peace with itself,” she stated.