Rwanda’s president Paul Kagame has been elected as the new Chair of the African Union taking over from Guinea’s president Alpha Conde.
The Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) meeting at their 30th Ordinary Session at the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, elected on 28th January 2018 a new bureau to pilote the activities of the Union for the year 2018.
According to a statement from AU, other members elected for the AU bureau include 1st Vice Chair H.E. Mr. Faiz El Saraj, President of the Presidential Council of Libya (North Africa); 2nd Vice Chair H.E Mr. Jacob Zuma, President of the Republic of South Africa; 3rd Vice Chair H.E Mr. Denis Sassou Nguesso, President of the Republic of Congo (Central Africa) and 4th Vice Chair H.E Mr. Alpha Conde, President of the Republic of Guinee ( Wests Africa).
In his acceptance speech President Kagame said it is a solemn honour, to accept the call to serve as Chairperson of our Union. He expressed his gratitude to the Heads of State for their double trust. First as the leader of the reform process and now as the leader of the African Union.
“I promise to do this with you and do the best job I can. Obviously, I will need your full support” he said , before acknowledging the high experience of his predessesor, saying “President Alpha Condé is a professor, a teacher, and I can safely say that I have learned from him. I have also seen his very big heart for Africa. Congratulations Mr President” . He called on his peers to join him in paying tribute to President Conde’s impeccable service to our organization. “ I have been lucky to work with his predecessor President Idriss Deby, and even luckier, to work with both of them. I want to assure you that I had a lot of wisdom flowing from them”, noted the newly elected Chair of the Union.
The president underlined that, Africa’s defining challenge is to create a pathway to prosperity for our people, especially the young people. He said, elsewhere, this has been achieved through industrialisation. But the growth trajectory that transformed Asia is not necessarily any longer a viable option for Africa, simply because we waited too long to act. He added that, technology has evolved so rapidly in recent years, that Africa’s window to follow that strategy is narrowing much more rapidly than previously understood. “We are running out of time, and we must act now to save Africa from permanent deprivation” incoming Chair of the Union.
According to the new President of the Union, Scale is essential.
“We must create a single continental market, integrate our infrastructure, and infuse our economies with technology. No country or region can manage on its own. We have to be functional, and we have to stay together. The financial and institutional reform of the African Union derives all of its urgency from these realities. Fortunately, Africa has assets and strengths to build on, starting with this organisation, and its tangible commitment to unity.” He said.
This, he said, is an advantage, which no other region of the world possesses, in such abundance. “Unity must be our starting point, as we do the necessary work of re-defining our plans and ambitions, in continental terms….These changes need to happen. There is no country on our continent that does not want to be part of a more assertive and visible Africa.