Progress made in many spheres by AU Commission
THE YEAR 2016 has been particularly fruitful for the AU Commission as it continues to work hard at the implementation of the first 10-year plan of Africa’s Agenda 2063.
We are very pleased to see AU member states and regional economic communities intensify Agenda 2063 domestication. Certainly, a lot more work still needs to be done to translate these aspirations to make a difference in the lives of Africans on the continent and in the diaspora.
Our aspiration of free movement of people around the continent received a significant boost last year. We again commend Ghana, Namibia, Benin and Togo that took steps toward joining Rwanda, Mauritius and Seychelles on visa-freeentry for all Africans. We hope that this year many more countries will follow suit with visa-on-arrival as we consider issuing the African Passport to citizens, within their national policies.
The 27th AU Summit of Heads of States and Government, hosted by Rwanda, was the best we have held.
We must maintain the focus on issues of our common interest, while striving to get better in hosting subsequent summits and meetings. The Kigali Summit was especially successful with the launch of the African Passport, decisions on financing the AU through a 0.2% import levy on eligible goods; Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) and the appointment of judges of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
The Kigali Summit also tasked President Paul Kagame of Rwanda to lead the reform of the AU.
Held under the theme “African Year of Human Rights, with Particular Focus on the Rights of Women”, 2016 marked important milestones in the continental and global women’s agenda for gender equality and women empowerment.
As we begin 2017, the theme is “Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through investment in Youth”. The youth constitute more than 70 percent of the African population and remain a critical part of our most precious resources.
Keeping true to the theme, the AU Commission is heading a focused End Child Marriage Campaign so as to ensure that young girls are not diverted from attending school.
The Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security also embarked on a Stop Violence against Women in South Sudan Campaign in response to the violent atrocities committed against women and children in South Sudan in the background of conflict.
We have repeatedly stated that Africa and the world cannot stand by and witness the suffering inflicted on the children, women, men and young people of South Sudan.
Enough is enough. Our people deserve peace and development.
Several successful elections were held in member states, and we congratulate the peoples and governments for their commitment at each election, ensuring smooth transitions, and moving a step further towards realising the spirit and letter of the African Charter on Elections, Governance and Democracy.
The AU remains committed to work with our member states to ensure that lasting peace is restored under Agenda 2063 flagship project Silencing the Guns by 2020.
This year, our heads of states and government will elect a new chairperson of the AU Commission at their 28th Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. For the first time, five candidates participated in a live televised debate, termed MjadalaAfrika. It was organised by the AU Leadership Academy on December 9.
It gave the African citizenry an opportunity to hear the plans of their would-be chairperson. This debate was unprecedented and a milestone our history. We hope we can have more debates of this nature, around critical issues.
Moving into the New Year, I wish everyone good health, peace and prosperity.
‘The 27th Summit was the best we’ve had’
Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma is the chairperson of the AU Commission