Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter
Africa’s successful response to challenges it faced in the past few years is testimony of what the continent can achieve if its people work together, the chairperson of the African Union Commission Mr Moussa Faki Mahamat said in a statement to mark Africa Day yesterday.
The 59th anniversary of Africa Day was held yesterday under the theme: “Strengthening Resilience in Nutrition and Food Security on the African Continent: Strengthening Agro-Food Systems, Health and Social Protection Systems for the Acceleration of Human, Social and Economic Capital Development.”
President Mnangagwa, in his Africa Day statement, said the theme resonated with the Second Republic’s thrust of improving the citizens’ welfare through development that leaves no one and no place behind.
Mr Mahamat said May 25 had a double evocative power as it takes the continent back to the youthful freshness of the first moments of the OAU when it was founded, and the questions on Africa’s individual and collective capacity to build the Africa then dreamt of by the founding fathers.
“In the trajectory of its evolution, the OAU transformed into the African Union, thus manifesting a paradigm shift for strategic adjustment and operational efficiency with the sole objective of giving substance and consistency to ‘the Africa we want’,” he said.
Some of the challenges confronting the African continent include terrorism, violent extremism and transnational crime in human trafficking, drug trafficking and arms trafficking, poor governance, corruption, youth unemployment, food shortages, and the Covid-19 pandemic.
But Mr Mahamat commended the AU’s response to the challenges.
“Determination and solidarity were clearly demonstrated in the face of the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The strong mobilisation of African leaders and the effective coordination provided by the African Union in the continental response are testimony to the ability of Africa to face the challenges in a united and resolute manner.
“In a short period of time, less than two years, some of our member States have succeeded in setting up Covid-19 vaccine production plants on their territories.
“In response to the food and nutrition crisis, which has obvious consequences for the health of the peoples, the African Union has taken a number of initiatives, the most important of which is the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme.”
The AU has also embarked on a series of actions and normative production stated in decisions, conventions and strategies, determining the mechanisms of action to attain the desired objectives.
“There is, for example, the courageous institutional reform of the African Union undertaken since 2016 and whose aim is to improve the governance of the institution and make it a key player in multilateralism.
“Then there is the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which entered into force in 2021, making Africa the largest common market in the world and accelerating continental integration. It reinforces the measures taken in terms of free movement of persons and goods.”
The AU Commission has also worked to address, as far as its resources allowed, concerns about health, education, infrastructure, energy, science and research, the sectors whose promotion and realisation are necessary conditions for the development of Africa.
While the results have not always matched the AU’s ambitions, “we are on the right path”.
“From the focused pooling of all our energies and geographically dispersed resources, will emerge a new Africa, ‘the Africa we want’. There is only one condition: to identify and point out, without complacency, the evils that plague our actions and hinder the effective implementation of our decisions, treaties, conventions and strategies in order to provide them with the appropriate treatment,” he said.
President of the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly, Mr Abdulla Shahid, said this year’s Africa Day theme raised the importance of addressing malnutrition and food insecurity and the development challenges confronting the continent.
“These are amplified by global crises, including Covid-19 and climate change. And they interconnect with ongoing difficulties caused by such issues as changing weather patterns, drought, poor sanitation, and crop-destroying insects — all of which have strong local consequences.
“Reinforced action to strengthen resilience in nutrition and food security will help overcome the effects of many of these challenges. And it will lay a strong foundation to empower communities,” he said.
Mr Shahid said Africa has so much potential with both human and technical resources to secure a brighter future for all its inhabitants.
“Working together with all stakeholders, and with effective partnerships with UN agencies, we can transform Africa into an economic powerhouse. We can help the continent achieve all the sustainable development goals. And we can ensure that the needs of all its inhabitants are fully met. On this Africa Day, let us rededicate ourselves to strengthening partnerships in pursuit of peace and sustainable progress for all of Africa,” he added.