Addis Ababa, 30 March 2015-03-30
Good morning. It is a pleasure to be back in Addis Ababa, and I thank the people of Ethiopia for always being such gracious hosts. Dr Zuma and Carlos Lopez, thank you for putting together this meeting.
This gathering is a good starting point, if we use it wisely to determine where Africa needs to be next. We all know exactly what Africa needs in terms of integration, prosperity, stability and more equal global partnership.
But there is value in once more reviewing these plans, as long as we can understand why we are not there yet.
Are we able to find a different way of approaching our longstanding challenges, that will give us the consistent results that we want?
Allow me to offer a few thoughts on how we can start to build new momentum.
First, we have become used to thinking about development as something we do with money, or other means, coming from outside our countries, or our continent.
However, we must continue to challenge ourselves, focusing on and making better use of what we already possess or can mobilise domestically. And there is plenty.
The advancement of the financial sector in Africa, including the creation of national and regional capital markets, is an encouraging sign.
But we need more and better collaboration, to build more sophisticated systems required to manage Africa’s substantial financial resources here on the continent.
The idea is not to do things blindly and to our detriment, so that the money continues to flow. It has to be about making our societies better, because that is we what Africans want and deserve.
Second, real impact happens when we first decide what we want to do, and then apply the money to it, as opposed to doing what the money may dictate.
External support should not determine the right choices. When we are able to build something that works for us, no matter how small, that solves real problems, we are in a better position to invite partners to join so they contribute to scaling up a proven solution.
This kind of momentum unlocks energy and demonstrates meaningful outcomes. It also allows us to stop accepting frequent excuses regarding capacity, skills and funding.
Third, we will achieve our aim of a united Africa faster if we urgently intensify our efforts towards regional integration. There are quick wins to be made by simply applying political will.
For example, in less than two years, the Northern Corridor Infrastructure Projects has already led to freer movement of East Africans, significant reduction of non-tariff barriers, and a big drop in the cost of mobile phone roaming within the region. We are also making good progress in the planned major regional infrastructure projects.
Finally, we are used to taking the big decisions, as governments. But we will not get the prosperous economies we seek unless the private sector plays a prominent role.
For Public Private Partnerships to be a reality, government and the private sector need to work together, not only on financing, but also planning and implementation, right from beginning.
We have given ourselves another fifty years to get Africa to where we want it to be. This may seem like a long time, but it really isn’t given the enormity of what needs to be done.
We seem to have everything we need to achieve our Agenda 2063, except a sense of urgency and real ownership.
So let us not continue to think someone else will get it done, or else we will only be waiting for ourselves, while the world waits for us.
Turning briefly to what AU Commission Chair said on Rwanda’s empowerment of women and lifting visa restrictions for Africans, among other things.
We have listened to expert advice and most of what needs to be done is already known. What we pick from this is that these things are doable. It is a matter of translating political will.
The empowerment of women is a question of rights and it makes sense when are they are more involved, whether in economic activities or parliament.
Regarding visa restrictions, initially there were worries. People thought there would be many threats. But we decided that the risks were worth it because these risks were neither new, nor greater than those that already existed.
By creating the one area network in telephone communications, more people gained access to communication tools and more money is being made, even with reduction of fees. The question we then asked ourselves is, why didn’t we do this much earlier?
Therefore until we move forward and do the practical things, as the AU Commission Chair said, we will only have dreams that delay or never come true.
I thank you for your kind attention and wish you a fruitful conference.