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“Africa has developed even if the progress achieved has not been sufficient to eradicate poverty,”
said François Hollande, President of France, speaking at the AU Summit held last weekend.
The president arrived in Addis Ababa on May 25 along with Yamina Benguigui, Minister of the Francophony, to attend the 50th Anniversary celebration of the OAU/AU.
In his speech, the President identified three challenges Africa and the rest of the world should work on together. As the first challenge, he noted that terrorism, trafficking and piracy are not just matters of concern for Africa, but for the entire world and all must combat these scourges. “That is what we are doing in Mali to protect the Sahel, and France has, alongside its friends in West Africa, shouldered its responsibilities, as Ethiopia did when it intervened in Somalia, along with other countries of the African Union,” he said
He also confirmed that France is fully aligned with the orientations defined by the African Union. France considers that Africans themselves must ensure the security of Africa. But France is ready to work with Africans to reinforce capabilities for action, to equip African armed forces with the means to respond to all forms of aggression. He also extended an invitation to all African Heads-of-State to the ‘Peace and Security in Africa’ Summit that will be held in Paris on December 6th and 7th.
He put development as the second challenge. “Africa is, of this I am aware, a continent with a future, growing strongly, achieving exceptional success and at the same time with needs that are still substantial in terms of infrastructure, education, town-planning and agriculture. France is also ready to contribute with funding to everything that can help the development of projects for Africa. France is also willing to substantially open up its market with the European Union, which is doing a lot and which can do even more with better terms for access for African products in Europe under the terms of an economic partnership agreement, which must be exceptional in character,” he stated.
The third challenge he underlined was the protection of the environment. He expressed his concern regarding the damages that are done to the biodiversity and destruction of wild animals that are unique to Africa. He then commended the works of the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi regarding the protection of environment, fighting global warming and promoting sustainable development.
During his stay, François Hollande paid a visit to the French high school Lycée Guebre Mariam, which celebrated its 65th anniversary, recently. He spoke to representatives of the school’s student body and expressed his gratitude to the French community for its commitment in the promotion of the interest of France.
Invited by Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, Chairman of the African Union, the French President was the only European Head-of-State to attend the AU Summit.