Africa marks 54th anniversary of pan-African bloc

ADDIS ABABA, (Xinhua) — The African Union (AU) on Thursday marked Africa Day that commemorates the birth of the then Organization for African Unity (OAU), and now the AU, in 1963.

The celebrations on the premises of the AU headquarters in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, have featured panel discussion, African bazaar that displayed cultural costumes and items of AU member states, music concerts, and sport competitions among others.

In his message conveyed through his deputy, Chairperson of the AU Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat noted that Africa continues to face many challenges despite significant progress by the continent since the inception of OAU 54 years ago.

Population growth control, environmental protection and climate change, migration, youth unemployment, terrorism, radicalization, trafficking, deficit of political and democratic governance, peace and security are among the major challenges facing the continent, according to the chairperson.

“After 54 years, the building of the unity of the African peoples is still a major task while the challenges, which Africans must take up collectively, keep increasing,” he said.

He also reiterated that Africa is a continent with an average growth rate of 5 percent over the last 15 years, with six countries among the top 10 in the world’s most dynamic economies.

He further said that Africa is one of the regions of the world where growth is definitely fastest, but where challenges remain in reaping the full benefits of all its human and natural resources.

It was to respond to the challenges Africa has been facing that AU heads of states adopted Agenda 2063 in 2015, establishing the most significant structural transformation program for continent for the next 50 years, recalled the chairperson.

The implementation of the program is carried out in gradual steps, as provided for in the first 10-year implementation plan 2014-2023, he said.

“We must also continue to promote synergy and complementarity between the UN Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda and our homegrown Agenda 2063. The signing, on 19 April 2017, of a Joint UN-AU Framework for Enhancing Partnership in Peace and Security is in line with this logic,” he said.

In his message in connection with Africa Day, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the 2030 Agenda and the AU 2063 Agenda need to be strategically aligned for the people of Africa to fully benefit from these important efforts.

Guterres noted that AU and UN are working in partnership based on the four driving principles of mutual respect, solidarity, complementarity and interdependence.

“The UN partnership with Africa is also rooted in a deep sense of gratitude. Africa provides the majority of United Nations peacekeepers around the world. African nations are among the world’s largest and most generous hosts of refugees. Africa includes some of the world’s fastest growing economies,” he said.

Reiterating the need to do more to create opportunities for African young people and empower women on the continent, Guterres expressed commitment for the partnership with AU.