Statement by Co-Chair of the Nepad Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee, Cde R.G Mugabe, at the opening session of the 34th Session of the Nepad Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 29th January 2016.
AS we assemble at the 34th Session of the Nepad Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee, I wish to extend my delegation’s deep gratitude over the facilities that have been provided for us by the government and people of Ethiopia. The excellent ambience should indeed ensure the success of our deliberations.
Allow me also to acknowledge the Nepad leadership for continuing to open new frontiers towards Africa’s development.
Our Nepad family welcomes a new member, President Dr John Magufuli of the United Republic of Tanzania, who is attending this session for the first time. We welcome you heartily, Your Excellency, to this fraternal body.
Permit me also to warmly welcome Dr Akinwumi Adesina, our new president of the African Development Bank. Congratulations, my dear brother, on your resounding election. I wish you success in the leadership of our important bank.
I wish to reaffirm the critical role of the Nepad Agency as our Union’s economic development arm. In that important role, it has, to date, performed exceptionally well as evidenced by the number of achievements it has registered. I wish to outline a few of those notable achievements as follows:
The Agency has been at the forefront of mobilising resources to fund infrastructural and other developmental activities under the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) and the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (Pida) frameworks. Agriculture and infrastructure development are key pillars in our continental vision, Agenda 2063, which, if given due attention, has immense potential to spur African develop- ment.
In information communication technology (ICT, the Nepad Agency has pioneered the introduction of the new multi-purpose technology that seeks to improve communication and adaptation to (climate) change and other Africa-specific challenges, using African solutions.
The recent introduction of the Systems Application Products (SAP) programme, a versatile Internet communication system, is yet another welcome breakthrough which is set to improve interaction between member states on the continent.
The inception of these new systems is timely, as they will help to improve efficiency in the way the continent does its business, and also in monitoring continental developments in the implementation of Agenda 2063.
In addition, these new online multi-purpose portals will facilitate connectivity and timely dissemination of Africa-owned information and knowledge products to a wide range of stakeholders, including member states, regional economic communities and development partners.
In yet another breakthrough, the Nepad Agency has developed a model law on medical products regulation that member states could use to review their own existing laws. This development has come at a time when most of our states are overwhelmed by imported medicines, whose efficacy on the continent is not known.
The launch of the Africa Global Partnership Platform (AGPP) in October 2015, in your country Chairperson, under the aegis of the Agency, is a most welcome development as it is intended to streamline our partnership arrangements. We need coherence and co-ordination when we deal with co-operating part- ners.
As we co-operate with these partners, we need to ensure that we retain control of the African development agenda as we have the unique advantage of fully appreciating the needs and priorities of our people.
Equally important, Chair, was the launch of the Continental Business Network in June 2015 in Cape Town, South Africa. As a platform to create conditions for the involvement and participation of our private sector in our development programmes, the business network can play a key role in ensuring that both governments and the private sector reap the rewards of development in Africa.
As our agenda discusses the issues of skills and migration, I wish to observe that the migration of African youths is an issue of serious concern that has to be addressed urgently. Not only does it dent our image as Africa, but also stymies our economic development endeavours.
We cannot continue to allow a situation where our able-bodied men and women embark on risky and perilous journeys across the oceans in search of a supposedly better world.
In this context, I wish to call on the Nepad Agency to assist member states in creating facilities to equip our youths with the necessary skills that guarantee them employment opportunities.
In addition, the Agency is called upon to assist in the creation of small industries and businesses targeting women and youths, so that the need to migrate is minimised. Africa needs to benefit from its critical human resource, the young people, whom we must nurture to enable their meaningful participation to national development efforts.
Africa has enormous mineral resources which have not been adequately harnessed for the sustainable development of the continent. Failure to exploit these mineral endowments is attributable to lack of appropriate knowledge and skills, technology and infrastructure, among others. As a result, Africa’s minerals are exported in their raw form.
It is against this background that the African Union Assembly decided, in 2005, to establish four African institutes of science and technology across the continent. These Centres of Excellence would focus on research and innovation linked to entrepreneurship.
I wish to inform Your Excellencies that for the Southern Africa region, Zimbabwe is setting up the Pan-African Minerals University of Science and Technology (Pamust), whose focus will be minerals beneficiation and value addition. As a Pan-African institute, the university will open its doors to all African post-graduate students to conduct cutting-edge research. It is our hope that the Pan-African Minerals University of Science and Technology will produce outstanding African scientists, engineers and technologists who will impact positively on the continent’s economic transformation.
We, once again, call upon the Nepad Agency to shore up and help capacitate and buttress these fledgling science and technology institutions. I am also appealing to the African Development Bank and to the African private business sector to support these Centres of Excellence in the spirit of corporate responsibility and Pan-Africanism.
As I conclude my remarks, I wish you successful deliberations during our Assembly of the African Union.
I thank you.