Statement of H.E. Amara Essy, OAU Secretary General, at the Third African Development Forum (ADF III), Addis Ababa, 4 March 2002
Honourable Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Honourable Ministers, Mr. Executive Secretary of the ECA, Distinguished Ambassadors, Distinguished Representatives of Diplomatic Mission, Invited Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a real pleasure for me, as the Secretary General of the Organization of African Unity, to take the floor at the opening of this Third African Development Forum. My joy is greater as this Third Forum brings together all the leading people of our Continent who have a definite experience in the field of integration. No problem can be resolved today, at the international level, without a pluridisciplinary approach. You, in this hall, are the best pluridisciplinary model which Africa can put up to deal with all the aspects of the challenge which is the establishment of the African Union.
When I took office on 17 September with the mandate of transforming the OAU into the African Union, I had also planned to bring together a team of intellectuals of your calibre to ponder further on the different aspects of this integration and particularly to benefit from you the lesson learnt from past failures we witnessed on our Continent since the time of independence. Consequently, when my friend, Mr. K.Y. Amoako informed me of the theme of this Third Forum, I did not hesitate to offer the co-sponsorship of the OAU to this Forum insofar as we pursue jointly with the ECA the same objective of development of Africa in the face of the major economic blocks which are the European Union, the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Mercosun, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which regulate the world economy at present. In so doing, I wanted to express my total support for the idea of seeing the co-operation between the OAU and ECA enhanced further and particularly the idea that the two Pan African institutions could enrich each other with their mutual assets: the OAU to benefit from the wealth of knowledge and sustained technical assistance of the ECA while the latter to take advantage of the OAU political umbrella and the paths of its major projects for the growth and development of our Continent.
I express all my gratitude to my brother Amoako for his open-mindedness, his will to co-operate with the OAU in everything that touches the interests of our Continent.
I seize the opportunity of this Forum to sincerely thank all the personalities who have participated in this Forum.
Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Economic and social integration are at the heart of this Third African Development Forum. By aiming particularly at defining the priorities of Regional Integration, this Third Forum intends to be highly significant value added to the building of the passionate and exalting African Union, an old dream of African peoples.
Consequently, since the time of national sovereignty acquired todate, much has been done to integrate first, the regional economic spaces then those of the Continent as a whole. There are many initiatives in this area. The most significant ones are based mainly on the all out establishment, at different dates, of Regional integration institutions; the Lagos Plan of Action and Final Act, the Abuja Treaty establishing the African Economic Community and since 1999, the Constitutive Act establishing the African Union whose texts relating to the key organs and the related Rules of Procedure are actually being prepared. But if it is commonplace that Regional, indeed, Continental integration has always been a constant element in the major concerns of African governors, this unanimity disappears when it concerns the evaluation of the real successful conclusion of the initiatives subtending the expression of this will. Indeed, Africa still suffers from the aftermath of its balkanisation and the failure of several strategies initiated and implemented to integrate its Regional economic spaces, an operation regarded as a sine qua non condition for its economic and social integration. The relative lack of success of the initiatives before the Constitutive Act of the African Union is explained by several reasons among which firstly are the ideological differences during the cold war period, the national egoism, the precariousness of African economies and particularly the almost complete inability of the African countries to gather, what the economists call "the fundamentals of economy", particularly political stability, development of basic infrastructures, development of the human capital, market access, the credit worthiness of the demand…..
However, it will never be over-emphasized that economic integration is a "compulsory phase" for African economies. It ensures the harmonious development of activities, strengthens, in order to encourage growth, the effectiveness and competitivity of the productive mechanism and for a given reason. It ensures the free movement of goods and services, capitals, enterprises and persons. The virtuous dynamics of the vast market is inexorably expected from these four freedoms.
This is why the African Union being built at present, is of capital interest to Africa as a whole. It is the challenge of the millennium to be taken up collectively by all the Africans. As Secretary General of the OAU in charge of carrying out successfully this process, I have the pleasure to stress here that it is a major imperative for the African Union to become a tangible reality at the next OAU Summit in South Africa.
Invited Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
This Third African Development Forum, with its relevant theme and the equality of the moderation, constitute, undoubtedly, a mine of ideas, thoughts and recommendations for building the African Union. Among other things, by giving the historical background and prospects of Regional Integration, by evaluating the integration process in Africa, by indicating to the African Governments the experiences of other regions in the area of integration, by highlighting the features of the physical integration through the development of infrastructures and by identifying the economic policies to speed up Regional integration and so on, this Third Forum represents historical value added to the collective momentum of Africans to succeed in the integration of their Continent. Such an investigation is, undoubtedly, likely to contribute greatly to energise further the Regional Economic Communities, indispensable pillars for building the African Union.
On my part, I humbly consider that the removal of constraints linked to the phenomenon of globalisation demands that the Regional Economic Communities be an economic reality. And to do so, it is of an imperative need that new partnership approaches between the countries of the South be worked out and implemented. These new forms of partnership must be sought in the following trilogy which today inspires all outlines of human organisations: identification of priorities, the hierarchy of priorities according to their order of importance and the search for a partnership for their concretisation on the ground. Drawing inspiration from this trilogy of the new approach, the South-South Co-operation must be centred on the full participation of African peoples. Such an approach has the advantage of greater effectiveness than the traditional co-operation models, generally imposed "from above" and giving the Governments the role of initiators, negotiators and signatories. By ensuring popular participation in the integration process, one can guarantee a closer relation between the concept of co-operation and the needs of those who must implement it.
Similarly, the new forms of partnership must encourage the active participation of African entrepreneurs. The emergence of African multinationals is, to this end, likely to speed up the integration process and give to the African economic operators the means to enable them take up the challenges of international competition. Thus, the development of African joint-ventures must constitute the anchor, indeed, the foundation on which the economic operators must promote partnership with their Asian or Western counterparts.
Regional approach must, therefore, replace national approach in planning economic and industrial policies as well as the designing of development projects and their financing. This Regional approach must be the pointer of African initiatives intended to all the partners in development of our Continent.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Africa, as a whole, is listening to you. It expects a lot from your deliberations. Consequently, may I conclude with these words: The Third African Development Forum affords all of us the opportunity to contribute to make history, to enlighten the way already outlined by the Founding Fathers and to give concrete form to their ideals.
Let us redouble our efforts, let us go back to the drawing board a thousand times and emerging from the beaten track of our state microcosm let us think about the grandeur and the renaissance of our dear Continent.
Let us simply do our duty!
I wish you full success in your deliberations.
I thank you for your kind attention.