Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister optimist on Africa as ECA Chief advises caution

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The prospect Africa’s emergence from all its troubles is getting closer to realization as the continent celebrates the 50th anniversary of the founding of the first and largest Pan-African organization, Ethiopia’s Foreign Affairs Minister exclaimed at the opening of the Executive Council of the AU on Wednesday.

Speaking at the 23rd Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the African Union which opened in Addis Ababa on May 22, Tedros Adhanom told his African counterparts that Africa must build on its achievements to advance its transformation which he said is taking shape.

There is a glimmer of hope for Africa’s rejuvenation as a result of the progress achieved over the last decade, he said adding that since the transformation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) into the African Union (AU), Africans were no doubt in a better position to address the challenges facing the continent.

”While the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) has allowed us to chart an independent path of development, the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) has enabled us to learn from each other’s experiences on issues of governance,” he told the gathering of African Foreign Ministers, which normally takes place ahead of the assembly of African leaders. ”It is encouraging to note that the number of conflicts ravaging our continent has subsided, with the exception of a few pockets in some parts of Africa.”

According to Tedros, who became Ethiopia’s chief diplomat six months ago, this has created a favourable environment for several countries to register high rates of economic growth.

“Moreover, many countries have ushered in a democratic dispensation that contributed to marked improvement in governance,” said Tedros, who is also chair of the Executive Council.

He told the Council that Africa needs to build on these achievements as it strives to advance the transformation agenda over the next decades.

”Our priorities should be to ensure lasting peace and stability, deepen governance reforms and accelerate economic growth and industrialisation, with a view to laying a solid foundation for Africa’s Renaissance,” the Ethiopian Foreign Affairs Minister added.

His optimism was also shared by others including Carlos Lopes, the new Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), who also spoke at the opening.

Nevertheless, Lopes advised caution on Africa’s part based on its past and current realities so that it will be able to control its development narratives.

“We are certainly making good progress by all accounts. However, before we get carried away by the positive assessments coming from the outside world, it is essential for Africa to recall its historical challenges, understand its current context and strive to control the narrative about its development projects,” Lopes said.

The Executive Council is holding for two days on the eve of the golden jubilee of the OAU/AU which will be celebrated throughout Africa all through the year. African leaders will hold a special summit on May 25, 2013, the day the OAU was founded in 1963. The special summit is expected to attract about 75 leaders from Africa and the world, and will remain open to the public throughout its session. Its outcomes will go to the proclamations that will come out of the two day closed session regular assembly of the heads of state of Africa to be held on May 26-27.