A strong Africa that can feed her children, keep them healthy, safe and on par with the rest of the world is a dream that can be achieved by 2063 – if the AU (African Union) can realise its regional integration goals.
According to Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, chairperson of the AU, Africa currently imports much of its processed foods from other continents which need not be the case. Dlamini-Zuma was addressing the South African National Editors Forum (Sanef) at its 20th anniversary in October.
Agenda 2063 is the AU’s blueprint for an integrated Africa and outlines the organisation’s plans to achieve inclusive growth, sustainable development and an integrated, politically united continent based on the ideals of pan Africanism.
Dlamini-Zuma spoke of Africa’s rich resources that can enrich the continent, as long as the focus moved away from exporting.
“We have the farmers; we have the land, and the sun. Agriculture should be seen as an entrepreneurial opportunity,” she said.
“Currently, it is clear that our minerals are not working for us as a continent. Otherwise many African countries would be very wealthy.”
Therefore it was prudent that a blue economy became a key focus. “We have the ocean at our disposal, but unlike other countries, we do not fish on such a big scale, and do not make use of deep sea mining.”
XENOPHOBIA STILL A PROBLEM
One of the biggest fears reported on Agenda 2063 is immigration and migration.
Arthur Kamp, an investment economist at Sanlam, and Maxine Hlaba, from SADC’s Banking Association, pointed to Brexit as a warning signal. In that instance there was an influx of immigrants which caused anti-EU sentiment and a perception of jobs lost. These issues had already emerged in South Africa and Zambia they said.
However, Dlamini-Zuma said, “If people can move freely between African countries, they will also leave freely. But as soon as you close your borders, and people come in, legally or otherwise, they will stay there no matter what you do.”
SUPPORTING YOUNG PEOPLE
She also said if younger people were empowered, they could build their knowledge base and become successful farmers. Mineral resources in their home countries could be utilized [to strengthen economies] and become a positive factor to keep young farmers on their home turf.
“We should ensure that Africans migrate out of choice, and not out of desperation, so that they can build the skills they need and go back to their own countries to use these skills,” she said.
Dlamini-Zuma said the role of the woman in our economy is becoming more important, and that women should start earning more money rather than being underpaid. More focus is placed on the role of women and already eight countries in Africa have established empowerment programmes with the aim of developing women economically.
According to a study done by the UN’s Environment Programme, 60% of women employed in sub-Saharan Africa work in agriculture and 80% of the region’s agricultural production comes from these women.
“If you leave your majority players out of your plans, how will you reach your full potential as a continent?” she asked.
TRUST IS IMPORTANT
Dlamini-Zuma said for the AU’s plan to succeed, it is important for all African countries to work together. “Agenda 2063 has solid goals, but [these] cannot be achieved with bad governments and corruption still taking place.”
It is a fragile goal: As Zuma noted: “Corruption erodes the trust between the different governments of our continent, as well as the people. And without trust, we will fail.”