Africa in 2063 – Removing obstacles to prosperity, Dr GNM Pandor, MP, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, University of Cape Town, 17 May 2022
Programme Director and Dean of Humanities at UCT, Associate Professor Shose Kessi,
Deputy Minister Mashego-Dlamini and Deputy Minister Botes,
Deputy Vice Chancellor,
Members of the Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation,
Director General and Senior Managers from DIRCO,
The leadership of UCT and Alumni,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Allow me to take this opportunity to express my profound gratitude for the warm welcome and for allowing us to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the African Union at the University of Cape Town. We are honored to be here and appreciate the leadership role that this institution has played as a center of academic excellence.
We are here tonight to celebrate our continent, and to focus on how best we can achieve Agenda 2063, by removing blockages to our collective prosperity before the African Union’s centenary.
As Africans we proudly claim Africa as the cradle of humankind. Our continent has an incredibly rich history and heritage, and a visit to Maropeng reveals the impressive historical exhibitions which detail how modern Homo sapiens emerged 200,000 years ago in Africa. Some of the earliest fossils of our species have been found in Ethiopia and South Africa. We only have to look at the city of Timbuktu in central Mali to understand the depth of African history, and how it was once one of the world’s greatest cities from 1300-1600 when it was the center of Arab-African trade and Islamic scholarship under the Mali Empire. Timbuktu’s university was a centre of learning that drew people from all over Africa and the Middle East.
Throughout its history, Africa has also been endowed with rich natural resources, which has been the envy of great powers around the world. The continent currently has 40 percent of the world’s gold and up to 90 percent of its chromium and platinum. The largest reserves of cobalt, diamonds, platinum and uranium in the world are in Africa. Our continent also holds 65 percent of the world’s arable land and ten percent of the planet’s internal renewable fresh water sources. If we harness the potential of our vast arable land, it could be a source of economic prosperity and food security. As we commemorate Africa month, we celebrate all these remarkable attributes of our Continent.
During Africa month we pay special tribute to the leadership role played by the founding fathers of the Organisation of African Unity and the role that Africans played in the fight against oppression, colonialism and apartheid. Their selfless sacrifices and the hardship they endured in the fight against apartheid will always be engraved in our hearts.
It was visionary leaders like Nkwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, Julius Nyerere of Tanzania and Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya whose dream of a united and prosperous Africa laid a solid foundation for the establishment of the OAU. Their vision also inspired the calibration of the OAU Charter into the Constitutive Act of 2000, as well as the establishment of the African Economic Community (AEC) whose roadmap birthed landmark initiatives such as the Regional Economic Communities (RECs), and the establishment of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The Abuja Treaty, which came into force in 1994 also envisioned the establishment of three financial institutions – an African Central Bank, African Investment Bank and African Monetary Fund.
African leaders have developed a roadmap that should take the Continent beyond 2063, but it is our role to implement the necessary programs and actions.
Ladies and gentlemen,
In January 2014 in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma presented a letter to a meeting of foreign affairs ministers of the Executive Council of the African Union, entitled: Agenda 2063: an e-mail from the future. In this letter, Dr Dlamini Zuma, who was the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, addressed Kwame Nkrumah informing him of the progress Africa would have made in 2063. Let me quote some of the visionary milestones outlined by Dr Dlamini Zuma:
- Africa would be united through the formation of the Confederation of African States in 2051;
- The youth would have played a strong agitating role for the integration of Africa;
- The implementation of the Abuja Treaty would have been accelerated, and the integrated African Economic Community realised;
- Our mineral resources are beneficiated in our shores through a strong manufacturing base;
- Rural agriculture would be fully integrated in a buoyant agro-industry based on Africa’s fertile and large river systems;
- The green economy, the blue economy, and ICT industry being the backbone of the Continent’s economy; and
- Africa becoming the author of own narrative.
Subsequently, the AU Heads of State and Government adopted a 50th Anniversary Solemn Declaration that pledged their commitment to prosperity and peace on the Continent, and the integration of these ideals and goals in national development plans and in the development of the Continental Agenda 2063. This would be accomplished through a people-driven process towards a prosperous Africa at peace with itself. A consultation process ensued which saw institutions of higher learning, think tanks, governments and civil society contributing to a discourse that led to the adoption of Agenda 2063: the Africa We Want.
Agenda 2063 envisions a prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development, an integrated continent, politically united and based on the ideals of Pan-Africanism and the African renaissance. The vision for the continent is one of good governance, respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law, peace and human security, and people driven development.
Agenda 2063 also identifies flagship projects to propel the Continent towards sustained development and prosperity. These projects include an extensive infrastructure build, the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area, a single currency, cyber security, establishment of Encyclopedia Africana, amongst others. AU Member States are expected to adopt these aspirations and contribute towards their implementation. A 10-year implementation plan is in place and the African Union Commission is monitoring and providing progress reports to the Heads of State and Government Summit on an annual basis.
When South Africa assumed the Chairship of the African Union in February 2020, President Ramaphosa outlined strategic priorities which South Africa was going to pursue during its chairship tenure. He addressed the AU saying,
“As Africans living in this new era, we shoulder the greatest of responsibilities to ensure that Africa’s wealth does not become her poverty; that her blessing does not become her curse; and that our endowment does not become our downfall.”
South Africa’s focus for its Chairship was on silencing the guns, advancing inclusive economic growth and development, expanding continental trade, strengthening democracy and good governance, and combatting violence against women and girls. But within a month of our Chairship, the world was struck with the catastrophic Covid-19 global pandemic, leading to global lockdowns, restrictions on international travel and the interruption of goods and services.
We have gleaned many lessons from the challenges the pandemic presented the continent, most especially the need to strengthen our comparatively weak health systems. We are all affected when it comes to contagion, and we urgently need to address the disparities in access to decent quality healthcare.
Ladies and gentlemen,
There is no doubt that climate change is escalating at a rapid pace. The destructive impact of cyclone Idai in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, and then cyclone Kenneth in Mozambique in 2019, suggests that natural disasters are likely to reverse developmental gains. Madagascar has also suffered greatly following the devastating tropical cyclones earlier this year. Just last month, South Africa saw more than 400 people killed by the floods that wrought untold devastation on private and public infrastructure.
We continue to read reports about water distress levels in South Africa, water shortages, and drought in other parts of the Continent that have led to intercommunal conflicts over grazing lands. East African countries such as Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia continue to experience locust swarms that destroy crops and vegetation, drastically affecting food security.
But beyond the challenges, we have new prospects for success, notably the establishment of the AfCFTA, which resumed trading on 1 January this year. It is a milestone achievement for the AU and indeed for the entire Continent. When fully implemented the AfCFTA will greatly improve intra-Africa trade, which is currently around 10-12%. It will enhance industrialisation and strengthen continental and regional value chains. The pace of economic growth and development on the Continent rests on the success of the AfCFTA, and it is imperative therefore that as Africans we must embrace and support its full implementation. We must also guard against any efforts to derail us in achieving our goals and objectives.
To date, the AfCFTA has been ratified by 41 out of 55 countries of the AU. The overall legal framework has already been agreed including protocols on trade in goods and services, as well as protocols on procedures for the settlement of disputes. The trade negotiations aimed at the finalisation of Rules of Origins are at an advanced stage of completion.
Preparations have also resumed on the finalisation of our commitments on trade in services under the AfCFTA, covering key sectors such as Finance, Tourism, Communication and professional services. There are also consultations underway on protocols covering support to vulnerable groups such as women and youth, to unlock opportunities for these groups.
While the continent is making progress on regional integration, the war between Russia and Ukraine directly impacts global supply value chains. There are countries on the continent which are dependent on both Russia and Ukraine for wheat, and agricultural input such seed fertilisers, and the supply has been disrupted. South Africa imports crude oil, diesel and related chemicals from Russia and Ukraine, and exports citrus. The flow of these products has also been negatively affected. This underscores the need for greater levels of intra-African trade so that as a continent we become more self-reliant.
The Heads of State and Government of the AU in 2013, made an undertaking not to, “bequeath the burden of conflicts to the next generation of Africans”. They also made a commitment to, “speed up the process of attaining the objectives of African Economic Community and take steps towards the construction of a united and integrated Africa and to move with speed towards the integration and merger of the RECs as the building blocks of the Union.”
The speeding up of developing infrastructure on the Continent is critical if we are to achieve an integrated and prosperous Africa by 2063 and beyond. The building of proper roads, rail, ports and tourism infrastructure are key drivers of economic integration at national, regional and Continental level. As you know, South Africa has hosted the AUDA-NEPAD since its establishment two decades ago. The AUDA-NEPAD plays an important role and is key to unlocking Africa’s economic potential by “facilitating and coordinating the implementation of regional and continental priority development programmes and projects, and to push for partnerships, resource mobilisation and research and knowledge management.”
Another key AU Agency that we take pride in, and whose mandate we must continue to support is the APRM. The APRM continues to play a fundamental role in the promotion of good governance and democracy across the Continent. Since its establishment it has registered significant gains with more than 41 AU Member States voluntarily acceding to the Mechanism and subjecting themselves to the periodic review in terms of political, economic and corporate governance. The Mechanism has created the potential for holding leaders accountable. South Africa has just concluded validation of its second report, and it will be ready for submission soon.
The above achievements made in the past two decades will come to naught and our Agenda 2063 vision will only be a pipe dream if we do not decisively deal with the perennial challenge of conflicts in several hotspots on the Continent, which sadly have become a permanent feature in the agenda of the AU since 2002. The AU’s priority of strengthening development, including addressing the unprecedented levels of poverty in Africa has had to take a back seat as a result. The flagrant violations of human rights that our Continent continues to witness remain a stubborn stain on the tapestry of commendable work that the AU continues to implement on the Continent.
The unconstitutional changes of government and the reemergence of coups d’états in the past year does not bode well for the long-term integration and socio-economic development in Africa. The coups, coupled with the long running conflicts in the Eastern DRC, Sudan, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic have undermined AU efforts to silence the guns by 2030. Closer to home, the on-going insurgency taking place in the Cabo Delgado province of Mozambique is concerning, and it threatens the security and stability of the entire SADC region. However, we commend the role that has been played by ECOWAS and SADC in dealing decisively with the coups in West Africa and the insurgency in Cao Delgado, respectively.
Ladies and gentlemen,
South Africa remains extremely concerned about the humanitarian consequences of conflicts on the Continent, and the resultant displacement of people, especially across the SAHEL, in the Eastern DRC and in the Central African region. These conflicts have huge implications on the livelihoods and social cohesion in the affected areas. South Africa therefore fully supports the upcoming AU Summit on humanitarian assistance, which is taking place in Malabo at the end of this month. Our participation at the Summit will be to reaffirm our commitment to support fellow Africans that may be in a humanitarian distress.
We believe the AU has laid a solid foundation for the implementation of Agenda 2063 and will drive the Continent to finally realise its potential. However, our view is that the success of the AU, and indeed the Continent, will be hollow if Agenda 2063 is not fully embraced and domesticated at regional and national level by all Member States and by Africans in general. In that regard, South Africa will continue to advocate for the alignment of Agenda 2063 with National Development Plans across the Continent to ensure coordination and synchronisation with Continental agendas.
In conclusion, we should not relent in our commitment to silence the guns by 2030, speed-up regional integration, fully implement the AfCFTA while accelerating the roll-out of infrastructure development across the Continent, which will otherwise remain a stumbling block to the realisation of our economic prosperity and integration.
I want to end by quoting former President Thabo Mbeki, who boldly captured the spirit that must permeate throughout the Continent as we commemorate Africa Day, and I quote, “Whatever the moment, nothing can stop us now! Whatever the difficulties, Africa shall be at peace! However improbable it may sound to the sceptics, Africa will prosper!”.
I thank you.
ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION
OR Tambo Building
460 Soutpansberg Road