Integration in the spirit of Pan Africanism has to be at the centre of the different phases of African development particularly in the context of the mission of the African Union and Agenda 2063.
Officials said this at the fourth edition of the Retreat of the Executive Council which ran from May 5-7in Nairobi.
Held at Radisson Hotel in Nairobi, the retreat was organised by the African Union Commission and hosted by the Government of Kenya, ahead of the 27th African Union (AU) Summit due in Kigali from July 10-18.
The retreat focused on the implementation of Agenda 2063 by examining the paradox of why a continent rich in natural resources is stuck in the cycle of underdevelopment, with marginal contributions to global production.
Participants drew examples from some African land locked countries, including Rwanda that have overcome the paradox, without the benefit of mineral and energy resources.
These examples were used, as tipping points required to achieve Agenda 2063 goals.
Rwanda’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Louise Mushikiwabo, was among the participants who included African ministers.
During discussions, ministers showed the need to ensure cohesion, unity of action and a Pan African mindset that will lead to committing to integration and sustainability, that puts the interests of the continent and the African people first.
Amina Mohamed, the Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Kenya in her opening remarks said Kenya was delighted to host the important event, which aimed at shaping the future of Africa.
“Africa is reach with natural resources, land and people but its people are among the poorest in the world. This forum gives us an opportunity to chart ways of how available natural resources can be used to improve wellbeing of our people,” Amina said.
Chairing a session on Innovative Strategies for the Implementation of Agenda 2063 and Its Flagship Programmes, Minister Mushikiwabo said for Africa to have its place among other prosperous continents, it requires members to be serious, focused and organised.
She reminded participants that Africa’s 50-year vision, Agenda 2063 provides an opportunity for both short and long term planning by focusing more on priority projects.
“We have to look into our planning pattern in both short and long term vis-à-vis how we implement so as to arrive to durable solutions of problems affecting our people,” she said.
Juma Calestous, a Professor of the Practice of International Development and Faculty Chair of the Innovation for Economic Development Executive Programme at Harvard Kennedy School, observed that Africa must build science, research, technology and innovation capacities by using and expanding existing capacities in research institutes and universities.
“Education is critical to transformation. Countries that educate and skill their population begin to see impact within one generation. Rwanda is leading the way on this for leveraging its economic needs to education,” he said.
“I commend Rwanda for introducing entrepreneurial reforms in education sector that has played a key role in its immense social economic-transformation that has seen a good number of people lifted out of poverty. Other African countries need to try this model since it has proven to be an important pillar of development.”
Ministers adopted a report to be submitted to the 27th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State.
The retreat resolved to raise awareness of African Paradox at different levels, mobilise domestic resources to increase taxes which will raise revenues for infrastructure and education, and advance industrialisation agenda.
The maiden Ministerial Retreat of the Executive Council was held in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia in January 2014, with its major focus on the development of Agenda 2063.