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AU's 50th Anniversary: President Sirleaf Presents Views on Pan Africanism and African Renaissance

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Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf says Pan Africanism and the African Renaissance have brought the continent closer together.

The Liberian Leader in her address to the AU, at the 50th Anniversary celebrations expressed her pleasure on the changing narratives about Africa that “these new narratives are a clear testimony from doom to those of opportunities, progress and development”.

According to a dispatch from the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, President Sirleaf made the comments following a debate on “Pan Africanism and the African Renaissance,” as part of celebrations marking the Golden Jubilee of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), now the African Union (AU), on Saturday, May 25.

In her intervention of the debate, President Sirleaf cautioned that the current positive categorization could be short-lived unless Africa moves quickly to use the opportunities available for economic growth to promote regional integration and prevent the balkanization of misguided economic and trade-related activities.

She pointed out that to receive the benefits of the current investment opportunities and the advancement of the African Renaissance, the continent must hasten the building of infrastructures across countries’ borders as interconnectivity in the transport, power and telecommunications systems are critical.

“We must look beyond national priorities if we are to achieve industrialization and increase inter-Africa trade which we all seek,” she said, calling upon regional institutions, including the African Development Bank and others, to take a more active role in addressing this long delay in the realization of the full economic potential of the continent.

Panelists included: the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Donald Kaberuka, spoke on the continent’s economic situation, while
Dr. Amina Mama, addressed issues concerning the continent’s women and children. 

Earlier, during the formal opening of the celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of the OAU/AU, the Chairperson of the African Union and Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, H.E.

Hailemariam Desalegn, welcomed guests to Addis Ababa on behalf of the Ethiopian people and indicated that the huge presence of non-Africans showed solidarity for the African continent and peoples.

He highlighted the importance of the day, indicating that is an occasion to honor the founders of the regional organization who created the OAU/AU 50 years ago with the tenacity to pursue the quest for African Unity, inspired by the ideals of Pan Africanism.

He used the occasion to propose five strategic measures which he believes can transform Africa and empower its people.

They are: agricultural development; human and technological capacity building; infrastructural development; private sector development; and democratic governance.

In her address, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, urged all Africans to animate efforts and contribute to the Agenda 2063, so that Africa takes its destiny into its hands and occupies its rightful place in the comity of nations.

“We pay tribute to the pioneers of Pan Africanism, on the continent and in the Diaspora, and to the Founders of the OAU for their wisdom and foresight to lay the foundations for the unity and solidarity of Africa,” she said, adding that these early generations embodied the Pan African values of selflessness, solidarity and service to the people.

On promoting Africa’s image, Dr. Zuma indicated: “We are proud to be African. In this great task, let us think like men and women of action, and act like men and women of thought.… We pledge to take our destiny into our own hands, because power resides in hard work, scientific investigations, in intellectual curiosity, in creative greatness and freedom, in the fullest exploration of our human powers, and in the truest independence.”

Highlighting her immediate priorities in realizing the Africa 2063 vision, the AU Commission’s Chairperson emphasized that as the continent starts the journey of the next 50 years, the urgent tasks facing it are:

“to educate our populace, and ensure healthy bodies and minds; to modernize and expand Africa’s infrastructure and connect our peoples and countries; to grow our agriculture and agro-businesses so that we can feed ourselves and the world; to use our natural resources to industrialize and grow our shared prosperity; to invest in science, technology, research and innovation as enablers of rapid progress; and, finally, to empower women and youth as the drivers of Africa’s renaissance.”

The celebration of the Golden Jubilee also featured a cultural evening that was graced by current and former Heads of State of the Union, as well as former Secretaries-General of the OAU and former Chairpersons of the AU.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was among the guests. Africans from the five regions of the continent and the Diaspora and guests from around the
world were present.


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