Speech by Amb. (Dr.) Amina C. Mohamed, EGH, CAC, Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs During Dinner Hosted by H.E. William Ruto, the Deputy President of the Republic of Kenya in Honour of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Comesa Member Countries, Antananarivo, October 17, 2016
Your Excellency, Deputy President of the Republic of Kenya
Hon. Colleague Ministers,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am truly honoured by your presence and I thank you most sincerely for accepting our invitation.
We invited you for dinner to interact and share with you as colleagues and to inform you of my decision to accept the nomination by the Government of Kenya to contest for the seat of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission and to seek your support for my candidature.
The African Union Commission, discharges the critical responsibility of driving the African integration and development agenda by developing clear goals and strategies. In many respects, this is a process to which Kenya has dedicated time and conscious effort for many years. I have done the same for all my working life. My decision to accept the nomination has
therefore been inspired by my desire to pursue an agenda that I believe in and conversant with.
In seeking your support, I am fully aware of the journey we have travelled as a continent in the quest for integration and development. This journey begun with the gruesome struggle against colonialism which culminated in the signing of the Charter establishing the Organization of African Unity (OAU) on 25 May 1963, in Addis Ababa. In 2002 the OAU transformed into the African Union after successfully completing the process of the decolonization of Africa. We now need to engage a high gear for economic emancipation and progress in the light of the many opportunities and new challenges.
In seeking your support therefore, I am seeking your mandate to build on the solid foundation that has been laid by the hard work of our people.
Without doubt, the last 53 years in Africa have been a proud chapter of resilience, creative energy and determination and I have no illusions about the solemnity of the responsibility of AUC and its meaning to present and future generations of Africans.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, The roadmap into the future of Africa is clearly spelt out in Agenda 2063 which is our shared framework for inclusive growth and sustainable development. The Agenda is comprehensive, comprising seven aspirations from which are derived, as you are aware, 18 goals which are further expanded into 44 priority areas and finally expressed as 161 different national-level targets. The work of the AUC is therefore cut out and as a priority involves implementation of Agenda 2063.
As chairperson, and without losing focus of all the commitments of Agenda 2063, I will begin by prioritizing programs. In addition to the 12 flagship projects already cited as priorities in the execution of Agenda 2063, I will begin by selecting other programs that have the greatest potential in answering to the urgent needs of the continent.
In this regard, the first priority will be industrialization. Industrialization offers the best way to accelerate poverty reduction and generate the large number of jobs needed to cater for the growing numbers of youth in the continent. It is for this reason that Agenda 2063 adopts a collective vision and road map to speed-up actions to transform, grow and industrialize our
economies through beneficiation and value addition of natural resources.
Secondly, I would prioritize trade which is a renowned driver of economic development. African countries have not benefited from trade mainly because our external trade volumes are low, the range of tradable commodities is limited and market destinations are not well-diversified.
To improve Africa’s trade, the focus is to deepen integration towards the establishment of the Continental Free Trade Area by end of 2017 and to step up the push for a fair international trade regime. Reforming the international trade regime is a matter I fully comprehend having chaired the three most important bodies of the World Trade Organization; namely the Trade Policy Body, the Dispute Settlement Body and the Governing General Council of the WTO. During this period, I championed trade
reforms that would improve market access for developing countries, particularly in Africa.
I also had the honour to chair the WTO 10th Ministerial Conference in Nairobi last year. This conference concluded with the outlawing of export subsidies and the disciplining of export credit and food aid. This was a major breakthrough for countries that rely heavily on agriculture for income and jobs such as African countries.
We pursued the same agenda during the UNCTAD 14 Conference which I chaired in Nairobi in July this year. I will be serving as president of UNCTAD for the next four years and this presents an ideal opportunity to mainstream Africa’s trade agenda in the international arena.
The third priority would be addressing the impact of climate change. Many African countries are highly vulnerable to climate variability and change, more particularly because of over dependence on climate sensitive economic sectors and low adaptive capacity. In many parts of Africa the impact of climate change including drought, floods and earthquakes is already severely undermining livelihoods. This underlines the urgent need for effective actions especially on building the resilience of vulnerable
I fully understand the intricacies of environmental conservation having worked for three years from 2011 as the UN Assistant Secretary General and Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). It was during my tenure that UNEP was upgraded from a 58 member governing body to the Universal Environment Assembly.
My experience in environmental conservation issues and negotiations will be serviceable in pushing Africa’s environmental agenda forward. I would also prioritize conflict prevention which has contributed more than any other factor to our socio-economic malaise and the suffering of our people. The focus will be on strengthening the African Peace and Security Architecture – comprising the Peace and Security Council, the Panel of the Wise, the Continental Early Warning System and the African Standby Force which are the veritable mechanisms for the prevention, management and
resolution of conflicts in Africa.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Beyond prioritization, I will also focus on other key areas including:
1) Effecting an integrated approach in the implementation of Agenda 2063 and the global 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. An integrated approach will offer Africa a unique opportunity to achieve inclusive, transformative and sustainable development. Africa formulated a Common African Position on the Post-2015 Development Agenda which greatly influenced the work of the Open Working Group on the SDGs.
2) Developing mechanisms for leveraging the unique strengthens of different African countries. This will involve developing approaches through which Africa as a whole and the individual economies can leverage their respective cost advantages, natural and human resources to successfully integrate into the global value chains.
3) Finally, I will focus on building institutional capacity. This will include enhancing the institutional capacity of the African Union Commission and other organs of the Union as well as the Regional Economic Communities, which are the building blocks of the African Union.
The successful implementation of Agenda 2063 will no doubt be challenging. I am convinced, however, that we can and we will succeed. I conclude with the words of Robert Sobukwe and I quote: ‘The wheel of progress revolves relentlessly and all nations
of the world take their turn at the field-glass of human destiny.’