Port Louis, Mauritius 20 March 2017- African leaders took a bold step towards driving its own integration and development agenda, at the inaugural African Economic Platform (AEP), which is being held from the 20-22 March 2017.
The platform is a response from state and non-state actors to overcome the so-called African paradox, a situation where Africa, a resource rich continent, finds itself at the base of the global development and economic pyramid.
The AEP which will be an annual event, will provide an environment for constructive multi-stakeholder dialogues around common themes for Africa led by Africans and which will ultimately influence continental policy.
While making his welcome address, the Hon. Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, Prime Minister of Mauritius noted that the launch of the AEP marked a paradigm shift and the opening of a new chapter in the history of the African Union. The Hon. Prime Minister noted that the AEP is a step in the right direction as it allows stakeholders in Africa to pull their resources together to achieve a common set of goals the and unity of purpose and action was a key ingredient to ensuring Africa caught up with the rest of the world and more importantly becomes a strong and resilient power in the global landscape.
The Hon. Prime Minister also used the occasion to remind the audience that Africa’s financial and economic independence also requires complete political independence and full sovereignty over its territory and welcomed the solidarity and support from other African nations through the African Union to exercise its full sovereignty over its territory the Chagos Archipelago which remains under the occupation of a former colonial power.
Dr Louisa Diogo, Vice-Chairperson of the African Union Foundation, highlighted the potential role of the African private sector in raising and deploying resources to support continental development efforts. She recalled the fight against Ebola in 2014-15, when the private sector raised over 35M USD and supported the deployment of 8555 health workers to fight the disease in the worst affected countries.
The Hon Dr. Barnabas. Sibusiso Dlamini Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Swaziland gave a welcome statement on behalf of the Bureau of The African Union. Hon. Dr. Dlamini noted that for far too long Africa had sat on the side-lines of global forums where issues of investment, business opportunities and economic development in Africa are discussed, but which may not of necessity prioritise Africa’s drive for inclusive growth and development. The AEP was therefore a clear message to the world that Africa was now looking inwards and looking to work collaboratively as policy makers, investors and skills enablers to determine how to attain the Pan African Vision of Agenda 2063
In his keynote address the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC) H.E Mr Moussa Faki Mahamat noted that it was unacceptable that Africa with a vibrant population of over one billion, 60% of whom are youth, with one-sixth of the world’s arable land, huge natural resources, is still fragmented into 55 weak and small markets with divergent and conflicting economic policies and prescriptions, and accounts for just over 2% of global trade, resulting in the marginalization of Africa in the global system. The AEP was therefore a great opportunity to reaffirm Africa’s its determination to shape its destiny and to take responsibility for its by finding African solutions to African problems.
Also present at the opening session was H.E. President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and from the private sector were Mr. Tony Elumelu of Chairman of Heirs Holdings and the Tony Elumelu Foundation, Dr. Chris Kirubi Chairman Centum Investments, Dr. Kelvin Kemm, Chairperson South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa), Mr. Vuyani Jarana, COO, Vodacom Group.
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