President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, elected as new Chairperson of the African Union for 2018


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 organization, and its tangible commitment to unity.

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 redefining 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”.

President Kagame further said the programmes, policies, and priorities of the African Union contain the right tools for the job. “I wish to pay tribute to previous leaders of the African Union, and to former Heads of State, for paving the way forward”. He added that there is tremendous value in the Union’s flagship initiatives, such as Agenda 2063.

“Because of their foresight, we are in a position to adopt three historic agreements that are of the highest importance for building Africa’s wealth from within. Today, we will launch the Single African Air Transport Market. This is a major step forward for transportation; we are nearly ready to adopt the Continental Free Trade Area. It really needs to be done this year; freedom of movement for people in Africa is equally important, and it is achievable in 2018” emphasized President Kagame. He added that “by committing to break down these barriers, we will send a tremendous signal in Africa and beyond, that it is no longer business as usual…Our people deserve a brighter future. Their sacrifice and hard work should be rewarded with better lives for families and communities”.

“We are thankful to the Heads of State who champion important themes and priorities of the Union at every Summit. I wish to commend the efforts of the African Union’s professional staff, which often goes unheralded.” President Kagame was optimistic that soon enough; the Union will also have the funds to support the African prosperity agenda. He announced that the levy on eligible imports is being implemented, the Golden Rules were recently approved by the Finance Ministers, and we have a more credible budget process in place.

The President closed his message by addressing the young people of Africa. “Elders should be able to enjoy the pleasure of telling you how hard they had it at your age, so you don’t take things for granted and are inspired to work even harder….Our job is to make sure that every generation in Africa enjoys a better life than the previous one…Young Africans are also professional men and women, and you have a full role to play. We cannot build Africa without you” he underlined. For women especially, he said “we need to unreservedly accord them their full rights and roles”. (See complete acceptance speech of the New AU Chair on the AU website).

The outgoing President of the Union, Alpha Conde, thanked the new AU Chair and promised to give him the necessary support to enable him manage the affairs of the Union successfully during his mandate.


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