AU business summit: Statement by Mr Amara Essy, Secretary-General of the OAU, Durban, 3 July 2002
Ladies and Gentlemen,
May I first express my immense satisfaction at being in your midst this day. As Entrepreneurs and businessmen and women, you are one of the key players of the African Union whose foundation stone will be laid here in Durban, on 9 July by the Heads of State and Government of 53 African States.
The priority objective of our future "common edifice" must be to fulfill the profound aspirations of the entire peoples of this Continent. These aspirations have been manifested in various ways - politically, culturally, socially and economically.
In a nutshell, the economic sector of which you are the lead stakeholders will constitute a vital springboard for implementing the overall project of the African Union.
You may recall that one of the crucial resolutions adopted by the Heads of State at their 37th Summit in Lusaka, Zambia, in 2001, was in connection with the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD).
The launch of this Programme which will place Africa in fine with the new exigencies of the global economy, is proof that our leaders recognize the catalytic role of this Programme in, addressing economic stakes and challenges.
The Group of Heads of State who designed the NEPAD initiative have, in drawing up their plan, been undoubtedly inspired mostly by the present day business culture.
As a matter of fact, NEPAD embodies the concepts of investment, human resources, competitivity, market conquest, growth, profit and, above all, the concept of access to the new technological tools for exchanges and production. Taking this factor on board will be a sine-qua-non if Africa is to be in step with the progress of the entire world.
Nature has endowed Africa with rich potentials which we must harness, transform and perpetuate. And yet, to cite but one example, Africa's share of manufactured goods export to the global market is below 20%. This situation has nothing to do with our destiny.
We have to rally around to reverse the trend. We should similarly reject the idea according to which our Continent has been condemned to eternal dependence on the rest of the world. We must, at all costs, demonstrate that prosperity is not an impossible goal for Africa.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I thank you.