The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integra-tion, Ms. Hannah Tetteh, has urged Afri-can governments to ensure that develop-ment is people-driven, with emphasis on the potentials of women and young people.
That, she said was the surest way the continent could harness its rich human resource to ensure socio-economic transformation.
She was speaking at a flag-raising ceremony in Accra yesterday to commemorate the 52nd anniversary of the African Union on the theme, “Year of women empowerment and development towards Agenda 2063”.
Ms. Tetteh said women constituted the majority of the human resources of the continent and giving them the opportunities such as access to factors of production, including capital, they would be able help in speeding up the development of the continent.
She mentioned the progress made particularly on some of the key Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) including access to education, reduction in maternal and infant mortality, reduction in poverty and progress in gender equality, and said more needs to to be done in the lives of African women through practical initiatives for modernisation of agriculture and agro-processing among others.
She also mentioned women’s access to land, science and technology, education, business development, financial inclusion, health and reproductive rights while campaigning strongly against gender based violence and child marriages.
“All these initiatives combined, will probably create an irreversible momentum towards the emancipation of the African women”, she said.
Ms. Tetteh paid glowing tribute to the founding leaders of the Organisation of African Unity who championed African unity and regional integration.
The Union, she said, was formed in 1963 to deliver the hopes and aspirations of the African people for political emancipation, solidarity, common identity, unity, peace, prosperity and development.
She said, following the independence of most African countries, and contrary to the aspirations of the people, the continent had been drawn into a downward spiral of poverty, disease, ignorance and squalor, making some to even consider the issue of Africa’s development as a hopeless one.
Nevertheless, she said, a memorable event like this, should always offer the primary stakeholders, the opportunity to take stock of the achievements as well as the failures of the African Union.
“The imperative of this exercise is to enable us to determine the things that we have done very well, so that we may take measures to accentuate them; as for any failure, we may be informed enough to learn our lessons and accordingly seek remedies for the future,” she said.
On the occasion of the 50th anniversary, the minister said, the Heads of State and Governments of the Union rededicated themselves to pursuing the pan-African version of “an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the regional arena.”
To actualise the declaration into blueprint, Ms. Tetteh said the AU Commission was mandated to draw up a new vision for Africa which had come to be known as Agenda 2063.
“Agenda 2063 is intended to be fully owned by all Africans and for this to happen, it is pertinent to ensure the full engagement of the African women who constitute our largest human resource”, she said.
The minister said the declaration of the 50th anniversary might be much appreciated if “we also remember that the framework of the Millennium Development Goal that hitherto guided our development aspirations since 2000 are set to elapse later this year.”
Ms. Tetteh said, the successful implementation of Agenda 2063, would require the buy-in by all African stakeholders, noting that “we all, therefore, have the primary responsibility to learn about this vision.”
The Zimbabwean Ambassador and Dean of African Ambassadors, Ms. Pavelyn Tandai Musaka, expressed worry about conflict and other challenges confronting the continent.
Africa, she said, was under siege under new colonialism and the need to fight it required boldness.
She said after 50 years, the continent was still faced with limited resources, though endowed with mineral resources, noting that when there was harnessed they could go a long way to bring development.
She lauded the creation of the African Standby Force to help deal with crises when they occur.
Ms. Musaka said the declaration of African leaders to solely fund the projects from their own resources from 2020 ought to be commended, saying as Africans we must continue to build on the principles of forging unity and harnessing our resources.
By Francis Asamoah Tuffour