The Kenyan candidate vying for the position of Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC), Amina Mohamed, wants to “harness” the potential of young people in Africa for the continent’s growth and prosperity, which she said “are real”.
“African youth are taking advantage of available resources to carve out transposable solutions to some of our most pressing challenges. In sum, our youth are our currency. This century is theirs and Africa’s,” the Kenyan Foreign Affairs Minister said in a New Year’s message to Africans.
“To harness their potential, we must collaborate both politically and economically. We must work in partnership and integrate in a manner that catalyses Africa’s synergy and diversity,” Ms Mohamed added.
“Today, the possibilities of Africa’s growth and prosperity are real. We represent the world’s second fastest growing consumer market with a rapidly growing labour and market base. We are a global hub of innovation, entrepreneurial talent and creativity,” the Foreign Affairs Minister said.
The current Chairperson of the AUC, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma of South Africa, announced last year that she was stepping down after only one term of four years, which she began in 2012, instead of the usual two terms.
But at the AU Summit in Kigali last year, heads of state failed to find a replacement. Now, at the end of this month they will try again to find a successor to Mrs Dlamini-Zuma at their gathering in Addis Ababa.
The other candidates are Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, the Foreign Minister of Botswana (the second female candidate); Moussa Faki Mahamat, Foreign Minister of Chad; Agapito Mba Mokuy, Foreign Minister of Equatorial Guinea; and Senegal’s Bathily Abdoulaye, who is the UN special envoy for Central Africa.
In her New Year’s message, Ms Mohamed said that she would also provide “real opportunities” for Africans “to grow, to prosper and to live in dignity”.
“Our priority should be to our people. This is a sacred call of duty that can only be accomplished together, without leaving anyone behind,” she said.
“A leader is not one who makes the farthest strides to the front but one who brings everyone along to the desired destination. That is the approach that we must embrace in order to build the Africa of our dreams.”
She added: “This must be our vision and action as we embark on this New Year: to shape the common destiny of Mother Africa; the destiny of the African people.”
Ms Mohamed, who has been on a whirlwind tour of more than 40 African countries since she was nominated by her government to contest the Chairperson’s position last September, said in her message: “As I traversed the continent, I have encountered the genuine spirit of our people, their generosity, warmth, kindness, resilience and optimism.
“While this beauty and diversity is so endearing, our people are unable to experience its depth due to shortage of links to aid movement of people, goods, services and capital,” she added.
“Enabling interaction among our people and especially our youth is a debt that we owe to the present and future generations. We have to carry and pass on the baton of the founding fathers of this continent, who recognised the strength of collaboration and common dialogue during their younger years.
“Their interaction, aided by intellectual quest and the dream of a free and dignified Africa brought us liberation, freedom and political independence. Many paid the ultimate price to grant us the freedom we thrive in today,” Ms Mohamed said.