Speech by the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor at the Launch Ceremony of the Ninth Pan-African Congress in Lomé, Togo, 22 May 2023
His Excellency, President Gnassingbé,
His Excellency, Professor Robert Dussey,
His Excellency, Minister Jean-Claude Gakosso, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation for the Republic of the Congo,
Fellow Members of the High Committee on the Decade of African Roots and Diaspora,
Fellow Ministers connecting virtually,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I wish to congratulate Professor Dussey for leading this initiative on African roots and Diaspora, as well the leadership of the Republic of Togo for committing time and resources to ensuring practical action in realising one of the goals on our AU Agenda 2063: The goal of “uniting African people and uniting them wherever they are”.
The objective of close collaboration among Africans living in Africa and the millions of our brothers and sisters living in the diaspora is a critical task that we must pursue vigorously.
This year we celebrate 60 years since the formation of the OAU in 1963. Leaders of an Africa striving for freedom and independence who met in Addis Ababa in that year had great hopes for an Independent Africa. President Nkrumah who clearly understood pan Africanist called on Africa to strive to move beyond political freedom, to economic and cultural freedom. We still aspire for these objectives today.
The greatest task achieved by the OAU was full dedication to ending colonialism and racism on our continent. The OAU support for the freedom struggle of the people of South Africa was an example of what can be achieved if we work in unity.
In the early part of the twentieth century a group of African leaders, intellectuals and civil rights leaders in the diaspora came together for the first Pan African Conference to discuss the condition of Africans and Africans in the diaspora. They envisioned a connected African community working in close alignment to reverse the negative effects of colonialism and imperialism. Their view was that African unity was essential to African progress. We have a large African diaspora scattered all over the world. The African Union recognised the diaspora as the sixth region of Africa.
The work being led by Professor Dussey is especially important and globally significant and is intended to establish these connections and use African unity to advance our collective development. We need to crest conditions in which the ambitions of our Africa Agenda 2063 are realised. We must utilise this work to make a decisive break with our present conditions of poverty, lack of development, low skills levels, and weak industrial capacity.
Fortunately, we are working in a much more improved environment with our AfCFTA, the development blueprint for a stronger African Union, a more democratic and prosperous Africa and a strong commitment to the African identity and a new African consciousness.
South Africa is pleased to have been given an opportunity to play a role in shaping the work and agenda of the 9th Pan African Congress and we look forward to working with Professor Dussey to create a better Africa and world.
Whilst the founding principles remain the same, the world has since evolved. In our view, the Congress needs to develop themes that are befitting our times to address some of the following:
- Promoting Foreign Direct Investment on our own terms
- Market access and the implementation of the AfCFTA
- Agriculture and food security
- Transfer of technology
- Investment in infrastructure including health infrastructure in order to address the shortcomings that became evident during the pandemic period
- Building and strengthening democratic institutions
- Human Resource Development, Capacity-building, Education, Training and Skills development.
In conclusion, we are looking forward to making a meaningful contribution that will bring forward a vision that was conceived during the 20th century by our forefathers.
I wish everyone a successful Launch Ceremony.
I thank you.
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