Africa must keep pressing ahead with promoting good governance, respect for human rights and empowering its own people as it seeks to enhance continental integration, Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro said today.
It is “clearly understood that Africa’s future is first and foremost for Africans themselves to decide,” she told a conference in Bologna, Italy.
Ms. Migiro welcomed a raft of measures the continent has taken, including the Constitutive Act of the African Union (AU) and the body’s clear commitment to upholding basic human rights and democracy, among others.
She lauded the “new and emerging African architecture of institutions,” such as the AU Peace and Security Council and AU peacekeeping efforts in Somalia and the joint AU-United Nations peacekeeping operation in the war-wracked Sudanese region of Darfur.
Africa, the Deputy Secretary-General said, has also demonstrated its ability to tackle its own challenges through the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), an agreed vision for economic and social development adopted by African leaders in 2001, as well as through the African Peer Review Mechanism System, “a home-grown African effort to consolidate good governance and the rule of law at national and international levels.”
She noted that many African nations have undertaken “bold and courageous efforts” to create a better future for their people, with these steps bearing fruit in the form of economic growth, reaching 5 per cent annually for several years until the onset of the global recession.
“African countries themselves have been the first to acknowledge that in an era of globalization… their individual efforts will accomplish only limited results unless African countries come together to achieve regional integration and exploit economies of scale,” the official said.
Recognizing the complexities involved in bringing together dozens of independent nations, the continent has taken a gradual approach towards integration, starting with enhanced collaboration among regional economic commissions.
Ultimately, she said, an African Economic Community will emerge from these efforts. “This is Africa’s own vision and we welcome and support it.”
Ms. Migiro acknowledged that there are many roadblocks in this quest, “but African leaders are well aware that the ultimate goal of regional integration offers the best opportunity for Africa and its people to fulfil their potential, harness the continent’s vast human and natural wealth, and become a full partner in the global community.”
She pointed out that today’s Bologna gathering comes as 17 African nations celebrate the 50th anniversary of independence this year and “at a time when Africa both needs our assistance but is also poised to surprise us with its own accomplishments.”