I wish to use my first words as Chairperson of the Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee to express my wholehearted thanks for the trust you have placed in me to lead this body. This is not the first time for this kind of trust. I can only pledge to do my best, in concert with all of you, to uphold this organ’s founding principles.

NEPAD’s distinctive outlook makes it uniquely relevant to Africa’s development trajectory. That is why the NEPAD Planning and Coordination Agency has become the African Union Development Agency (AUDA).

We owe a debt of gratitude to NEPAD’s initiating members, as well as my immediate predecessor, President Macky Sall, for the vision, dedication, and service that have brought us to this point.

Thank you, President Macky Sall, for the hard work you have put into it and the direction you have charter for us in the interest of our continent and the development of our continent.

I thank Dr Mayaki for today’s presentations. We ask that you convey our best wishes and great thanks to your staff for the excellent work. I also wish to congratulate Dr Mayaki for his distinguished tenure as Chief Executive Officer.

With AUDA-NEPAD as an integral component of the African Union, both institutions will be even stronger and more effective than before. Above all, we all have a duty to make it happen.

I count on all of you. I will count on you, Excellency President Macky Sall, and I will count on you, Dr Mayaki, for the time you will still be there. In fact, I wish to count on both of you even wherever you will be and whatever else you will be doing. I will seek your counsel to be able to deliver on this mandate.

Excellencies, Heads of State, and to those who are representing the Heads of State I wish to convey through you the message that I will need their Excellencies’ support. To the honourable minister representing President Ramaphosa, I extend my thanks for giving weight to this trust and for the work South Africa has put into supporting AUDA-NEPAD to be able to succeed. Convey our many thanks.

Excellencies and distinguished leaders here present, I thank you. The next thing is to sort out what hasn’t been sorted out so far. The direction has been given by previous leaders. We will be getting to work the next day.

Thank you very much.