Rwanda’s Paul Kagame is new AU Chairman

The outgoing Chairperson of the African Union (AU), President Alpha Condé of Guinea, has handed over the headship of the continental body to President Paul Kagame of Rwanda with a call on the members of the AU to emulate the recent example of Ghana in the creation of jobs for the youth.

He said it had become normal to criticise donor partners for failing to provide support for development projects on the continent but added quickly that: “But we also need to recognise that if as heads of state we are able to find employment for our young people as Ghana has done recently, then our youth would not be embarking on those perilous journeys across the Mediterranean.”

The worsening cases of the dangerous migration of the youth of the continent across the Mediterranean and the wanton exploitation of young Africans living as illegal immigrants in some developed countries, he said, required actions that were concrete and targeted at dealing with the root cause of that phenomenon.

It was in that vein that President Conde commended the Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo-led government of Ghana for pursuing initiatives that were targeted at creating jobs, especially for the youth.

The outgoing AU chairperson, who was delivering his last address in that capacity, stated, “We are now heads of state who are responsible and not a club of friends who pat one another on the back,” adding that it was easy to accuse others but “we have to confront our own responsibilities face to face”.

This year’s summit is on the theme: ‘Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation’, and discussions are expected to be primarily focused around the theme of corruption.

The new AU Chairperson, President Kagame, in his first address to the delegates posited that the protocol on ‘Free Movement’ for Africans was “achievable in 2018”.

Free Movement, which is part of the African Prosperity Agenda, will entail the implementation of continent-wide visa-free regimes, including issuance of visas at ports of entry for Africans.

‘‘Today, we launch the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM). We are nearly ready to launch the Continental Free Trade Area, and freedom of movement of persons is achievable in 2018,” he noted.

The Africa Prosperity Agenda

President Kagame indicated that his vision of steering the AU forward would see women and youth playing defined key roles in implementing the Africa Prosperity Agenda.

‘‘We can’t build Africa without the role of young African professionals; and we need to accord African women their rights and their rightful role,” he maintained.

The position of the African leaders was communicated during the opening session of their two-day meeting as part of the 30th AU Summit at the headquarters of the AU in Addis Ababa.

In his official opening remarks, the Chairperson of the AU Commission, Mr Moussa Faki Mahamat, said terrorism continued to ravage the Sahel region and the Horn of Africa.

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