Africa must pursue youth centred policies – Foreign Minister

Some traditional leaders at the ceremony

Some traditional leaders at the ceremony

Ghana yesterday renewed her commitment to the ideals of the African Union (AU) of building a prosperous continent with the youth as key drivers of the continent’s socioeconomic transformation.

Addressing a Flag raising ceremony in Accra yesterday, to mark Africa Union (AU) Day, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey said “we shall continue to invest tremendous political and financial capital towards its future.”

The Organisation of African Unity (OAU) was formed on May 25, 1963 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to seek the emancipation of the African continent from the shackles of colonialism, but was transformed into AU in 2013, with a shift in focus from political to socioeconomic emancipation of the continent.

To commemorate the day, set aside to honour the heroic role of the forebearers of the continent, including Ghana’s First President Dr Kwame Nkrumah, Ms Botchwey and the Zimbabwean High Commissioner to Ghana and Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, Pavelyn Tenda Musaka, inspected a guard of honour mounted by Ghana Armed Forces Contingent and hoisted the Ghana and AU flags respectively, amid the anthems.

 

It was attended by the First Deputy Speaker of Ghana’s Parliament, Joseph Osei Owusu, Members of the Council of State, Ministers of State, Members of Parliament, traditional rulers, Members of the Diplomatic Corps, service commanders among others.

Ms Botchwey said “our continued and relentless march toward integration should continue to provide the incentive for all African nations to overcome the intolerable contradiction between our abundant natural resources on one hand and the economic deprivation to which most African countries have been subjected over the past decades.”

The minister enumerated challenges on the continent to include conflicts, chronic instability, poor governance, arbitrary rule and dictatorship, human rights abuses,(including genocide),widespread poverty,famines,droughts,mass migration, outbreak of deadly epidemics such as HIV/AIDS, Ebola and countless humanitarian crises.

She said the first 10 years plan of recently adopted Agenda 2063 which spans from 2013 to 2023 contained key accelerators of the continent’s transformation described as flagship projects that include an integrated high speed train network, an African virtual university, the continental free trade areas, Grand Inga Dam Project, that is expected to generate 43,200 megawatts of power, Single African Air Transport Market and African Passport and Free Movement of People.

“Even as technical negotiations proceed on the protocol that would govern the free movement of persons across the continent, Ghana has recently joined the ranks of the few African countries that have taken the bold step to issue visas on arrival for African citizens. We call on other African nations to do likewise,” she said.

Turning to the theme of the celebration “Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investment in the youth,” the Minister said in spite of Africa’s success , “we are confronted with daunting statistics that indicate that the youth are not being given the priority that they deserve both in the formulation of individual government policies across African countries and at the continental level.”

“As leaders and policy framers, we need to make a clear statement and focus our attention on unleashing the energies of Africa’s youth toward national development and ultimately continental unity and prosperity. After all they are our future leaders,” Ms Botchwey entreated.

The Chairman of the African Union, Professor Alpha Conde of the Guinea in a speech read for him called for reforms in the UN Security Council to allow for two seats for the African continent.

The AU chair, whose speech was read for him by Ms Musaka, expressed the need for renewed efforts toward peace and security on the continent guided by the principles of pan-Africanism.

A photo exhibition was mounted to showcase past and present African leaders and the activities of the African continent.

By Salifu Abdul-Rahaman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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