President in key indaba on Africa’s future
Darlington Musarurwa in GABORONE, Botswana
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa is expected to take part in a presidential roundtable discussion here today at a key indaba that is being co-hosted by Kenya’s Nation Media Group and the Government of Botswana to discuss challenges facing Africa, as well as possible solutions and innovations needed to promote inclusive and sustainable development.
The fifth edition of the annual Kusi Ideas Festival, which is being held at the Royal Aria Conference Centre, is running under the theme, “Africa’s Agenda 2063: Making the Dream Come True”.
Modelled as an “ideas transaction market”, the festival — featuring Heads of State, high-profile speakers and leaders of various interest groups — will interrogate key issues affecting the realisation of the African Union’s Agenda 2063, an ambitious blueprint and master plan that is designed to help the continent achieve prosperity, economic development, peace and regional integration, among others, within the next 40 years.
The continental blueprint was born out of a realisation by African leaders that there was a need to refocus Africa’s agenda from the struggle to attain political independence, which was the major priority of the Organisation of African Unity (now the AU), to development.
Some of the flagship programmes and initiatives that were envisioned under the master plan included construction of a high-speed train network to link Africa’s capitals and commercial centres; crafting an African Commodities Strategy, which is premised on value-addition and beneficiation; establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA); free movement of people within the continent; and silencing the guns by 2020.
Construction of the 43 200MW Inga Dam Project in the Democratic Republic of Congo was also part of the continent’s anchor projects.
But inasmuch as progress has been made in implementing some of the projects of the AU’s Agenda 2063, challenges remain.
The Kusi Ideas Festival event organisers say this year’s conference comes at a time when Africa is on a journey to attain inclusive and sustainable development and economic growth.
“This year marks 10 years on the 2063 journey,” said the organisers in a statement before the event.
“On the 10th anniversary of Agenda 2063, the picture is mixed. There are as many advances and hopeful stories, as there are setbacks and failures. Many economies are hit by the deleterious effect of climate change, are facing a debt crisis, the threat of violent extremism, despondent youth, and there is democratic backsliding. Some, however, are bucking this trend.
“This event will seek to understand the complexities facing Africa today, and learn from the winners.”
However, Zimbabwe’s voice is likely to be influential at the indaba as it is has achieved milestones in implementing programmes and projects that promote peace, economic and social development, and regional integration.
Rehabilitation of the Beitbridge-Masvingo-Harare Highway — a key route in the North-South Corridor, which links Africa’s second-biggest economy, South Africa, with the rest of continent — is nearing completion.
And works on the Harare-Chirundu stretch are now imminent.
After achieving food security, Zimbabwe might soon be exporting surplus wheat, especially after harvesting a record 467 000 tonnes of the cereal, which is 100 000 tonnes more than annual demand.
The Second Republic has also mainstreamed women and youth in governance through the quota system in the 10th Parliament of Zimbabwe.
All these are considered building blocks that feed into the continent’s aspirations and vision.
NMG launched the Kusi Ideas Festival in 2019 as part of its 60th anniversary celebrations.
The inaugural event was held in Rwanda and attracted over 1 600 delegates.
The 2020 edition was affected by the outbreak of Covid-19 and was held virtually.
Ghana hosted the 2021 edition, while Kenya hosted last year’s event, whose discussions centred around Africa’s responses and solutions to climate change, especially after the UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) that had been held in Egypt.
The ideas conference derives its name from the southerly tradewind that blows over the Indian Ocean between April to mid-September, which critically enabled trade up north along the East African coast, particularly between Asia and Africa, for millennia.
Host President Mokgweetsi Masisi believes the ideas festival can be used as a platform to drive the continental agenda through Pan-African collaborations, knowledge sharing and the use of media platforms.
The Nation Media Group is the largest independent media house in East and Central Africa with operations in print, broadcast and digital media.
It presently serves audiences in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda.