Agenda 2063 is a call to action for all segments of African society to work together and build a prosperous united Africa. Africa thrives on embracing our diversity, and we unite in sharing values and goals. In this way, we can deliver on our aspirations in a sustainable manner, and begin to close the gap with developed economies. A united Africa should work towards pragmatic, inclusive growth that leaves nobody behind. An economy that grows mindless of the gap between the rich and poor is not sustainable. Africa’s growth narrative of the past decade witnessed an expansion of the middle class, increased purchasing power and ensuing urbanisation and entrepreneurial initiative. We must now lay the appropriate foundations to ensure we nurture a phase of even stronger inclusive growth in Africa into the future. Promoting an environment of stronger economic growth is a priority that can help alleviate the potential for conflicts across the continent. Where conflicts exist, we must endeavour to make our best efforts at fostering conflict resolution through appropriate effective channels, thus enhancing our peacekeeping capacity and ever stronger stability across the continent. The African Union has played a leading role in the promotion of human rights, establishing the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights in 1986 (ACHPR). Its wide remit covers issues that should be considered inalienable – such as fair trials, prevention of torture, rights of the elderly, women, youth and those with disabilities. All nations must work together collaboratively through the African Union in order to meet the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
There is an opportunity to build a new Africa. A land where we behold the values of our forefathers and the African Union’s founding fathers, and build upon the accumulated experience of each nation’s leaders. A continent of opportunities to educate our youth, facilitate their path into achievement and foster economic development that will expand the employment market, hence sowing the seeds to harness and harvest the demographic dividends potential that Africa has. Our greatest competitive advantage lies in our people and our natural resources. We must build capacity to increase work productivity, enhance and broaden our set of competences through vocational training and knowledge transfer that will allow African exports to move up the global value chain. Regional integration sits at the core of this strategy. Priority should be put on strengthening our institutions to support regional integration that would allow member states to work effectively under fair trade agreements and free movement of people and talent, and thus maximising the potential for our human capital contribution. Cross-border infrastructure development and connected capital markets will facilitate national and regional socio-economic growth, in a way that is beneficial to all nations.
We have an enormous opportunity before us. The African Union is uniquely positioned to contribute to laying the foundations for realising Africa’s bright future and to achieve the Vision 2063 goals. This is not an easy task, though. It will require stewardship and drive; energy and perseverance; pan-African activism, action-orientation and diplomacy as well as ability to reach consensus. My experience, in a life dedicated to public service at national, regional and continental levels has placed me to be in a position to give the African Union the leadership it requires in order to achieve the aspirations of millions of Africans. It would be a privilege, and an honor, for me to lead the African Union, this great pan-African institution, in the realisation of Africa’s aspirations, in our next phase of development.
Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi is the Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Republic of Botswana and Candidate for Chairperson of the African Union.