The University of Cape Town (UCT), in collaboration with South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), celebrated Africa Month on 17 May 2022 with a public lecture by Dr Naledi Pandor.
In her lecture, titled “Africa in 2063 – Removing obstacles to prosperity,” the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation outlined the background to the African Union (AU) and reflected on the challenges the continent faces in achieving Agenda 2063.
The lecture was held at the conference centre of UCT’s Graduate School of Business (UCT GSB) from where it was livestreamed on MS Teams for those who could not be accommodated.
UCT Dean of Humanities Associate Professor Shose Kessi was the programme director for the event. The incoming deputy vice-chancellor for transformation, student affairs and social responsiveness, Professor Elelwani Ramugondo, welcomed Dr Pandor.
In her opening remarks, Pandor, a former senior lecturer at UCT, reminisced about her years at the university, including the day that the UCT GSB was opened at its current location. She remarked on the visible signs of transformation at the university, including the fact that she was sharing the podium with two senior leaders who happened to be black women.
“African leaders have developed a roadmap that should take the continent beyond 2063.”
Referring to fossils found in Ethiopia and South Africa, and to the historic legacy of Timbuktu’s university, Pandor commented on Africa’s position as “the cradle of humankind” and its rich history and heritage. Africa has significant natural resources, she said, adding: “If we harness the potential of our vast arable land, it could be a source of economic prosperity and food security.”
Pandor paid tribute to leaders like Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, Julius Nyerere of Tanzania and Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya for their roles in “the fight against oppression, colonialism and apartheid” and for laying “solid foundations” for the establishment of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) – the forerunner of the AU – in 1963.
“African leaders have developed a roadmap that should take the continent beyond 2063, but it is our role to implement the necessary programmes and actions,” she said.
Milestones for progress
In her lecture, Pandor spoke about the “visionary milestones” that Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, then chairperson of the African Union Commission, outlined in 2014 in Ethiopia for Africa’s progress by 2063.
These included that Africa would be united through the formation of the Confederation of African States in 2051; the youth would have played a strong agitating role for the integration of Africa; Africa’s mineral resources would be beneficiated on the continent through a strong manufacturing base; and the green economy, blue economy and ICT industry would be the backbone of the continent’s economic development.
“The vision for the continent is one of good governance, respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law, peace and human security, and people-driven development.”
She reminded the audience that the AU heads of state and government had adopted a 50th Anniversary Solemn Declaration that “pledged their commitment to prosperity and peace on the continent, and [to] the integration of these ideals and goals in national development plans and in the development of the continental Agenda 2063”.
“The vision for the continent is one of good governance, respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law, peace and human security, and people-driven development,” she said.
But achieving all these goals will require many challenges to be surmounted. These include ending wars, advancing inclusive economic growth and development, expanding continental trade, and combatting violence against women and girls.
The fight to overcome these challenges was complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to global lockdowns, restrictions on international travel and interruptions to the provision of goods and services. In addition, climate change is escalating at a rapid pace and natural disasters are likely to reverse developmental gains.
Prospects for success
Pandor pointed to some of the prospects for success. These included the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). “When fully implemented,” she said, “the AfCFTA will greatly improve intra-Africa trade, which is currently around 10–12%. It will enhance industrialisation and strengthen continental and regional value chains.
“The pace of economic growth and development on the continent rests on the success of the AfCFTA.”
She also highlighted the role that the Africa Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) continues to play in the promotion of good governance and democracy across the continent.
“Since its establishment, it has registered significant gains with more than 41 AU member states voluntarily acceding to the mechanism and subjecting themselves to the periodic review in terms of political, economic and corporate governance. The [APRM] has created the potential for holding leaders accountable.”
Pandor said the AU has laid a solid foundation for the implementation of Agenda 2063 and will drive the continent to finally realise its potential. “However,” she cautioned, “our view is that the success of the AU, and indeed the continent, will be hollow if Agenda 2063 is not fully embraced and domesticated at regional and national level by all member states and by Africans in general.”
She ended her lecture with a quote from former President Thabo Mbeki: “Whatever the moment, nothing can stop us now! Whatever the difficulties, Africa shall be at peace! However improbable it may sound to the sceptics, Africa will prosper!”
As part of the Africa Month celebrations, a panel discussion was held at the same venue on 18 May.
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During the month of May the University of Cape Town (UCT) commemorated the establishment, in 1963, of the Organisation of African Unity – a precursor to the African Union – which made Africa a pioneer in continental unity and nation building.
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