Africa has recently become a collateral victim of a distant conflict between Russia and Ukraine, AU Commission Chairperson Moussa Mahamat said in his speech on Africa Day .
He noted that the war against Ukraine by Russia has profoundly upset the fragile global geopolitical and geostrategic balance and has also “shed a harsh light on the structural fragility of our economies”.
“The most emblematic sign of these weaknesses is the food crisis resulting from climate change, the COVID-19 health crisis, amplified today by the conflict in Ukraine. This crisis is characterized by a decrease in the global supply of agricultural products and a galloping inflation of food prices,” said Mr. Mahamat.
In response to the food crisis, he noted that the African Union has taken a number of initiatives, the most important of which is the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Program (CAADP).
In addition, the AU has decided to dedicate the year 2022 “to strengthening the resilience of food and nutrition security on the African continent: strengthening agri-food systems and health and social production systems to accelerate socio-economic development and human capital”.
The Russian-Ukrainian war has had an impact on global food prices and has also greatly affected Africa, as the continent is heavily dependent on both countries for grain supplies.
According to African Development Bank (AfDB), Africa is heavily dependent on both countries for its food imports – countries like Benin, Somalia, Tanzania, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Egypt get more than 50% of their imports from wheat from Russia and Ukraine.
However, the bank’s chairman, Akinwunmi Adesina, told reporters in Accra on Monday that he is optimistic that Africa will not experience a food crisis.
“We have the means to meet this challenge!
“Africa only needs to produce its own food. He shouldn’t have to beg for food. There is no dignity in begging for food,” Adesina told the ongoing annual meetings of the African Development Bank Group.
Mr. Mahamat noted in his speech that Africa Day, which is celebrated every May 25, has a “double evocative power”.
“On the memorial level, it brings us back to the youthful freshness of the first moments of the OAU. At the geopolitical and institutional level, it constantly questions our individual and collective ability to build the Africa then dreamed of by our founding fathers.
“In the trajectory of its evolution, the OAU has been transformed into the African Union, thus manifesting a paradigm shift of strategic adjustment and operational efficiency with the sole objective of giving substance and consistency to “the Africa that we want to “. More than in the past, the challenges are becoming more numerous and sometimes more complex, making it more difficult to meet them successfully,” Mr. Mahamat noted.
Outlining some of the challenges besetting the continent, he said: “Over the past ten years, Africa has faced the challenges of terrorism, violent extremism and transnational crime (human trafficking, smuggling drugs, arms trafficking).
He said that terrorism, in particular, is constantly gaining ground; “Today, many states are devoting a good part of their resources and energies to fighting or protecting themselves against this phenomenon, thus depriving vital sectors such as health and education of the resources they need.
Acknowledging the failure of governance on the continent, he said that the disasters generated by poor governance can no longer be concealed following the demand for transparency imposed by a population increasingly open to the world through the news. information and communication technologies.
“Phenomena such as corruption, inter-community conflicts, recent waves of unconstitutional changes, etc. are the most visible avatars of this governance,” he noted.
According to Mr. Mahamat, the massive unemployment of young people and the persistent precariousness of women on the Continent are other challenges that call for urgent responses, because this category of the African population no longer accepts being a passive spectator of its destiny.
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To all these constraints must be added the economic crisis which is burdened by debt, the climate and energy crisis which, in turn, affects food prices through the exorbitant cost of transport, while the health crisis following the COVID-19 epidemic weakens the production capacities of the various economic agents.
However, in the face of these challenges, the AU, according to Mr. Mahamat, has adopted a number of mechanisms.
One of them is the Institutional Reform of the African Union, undertaken since 2016, and whose objective is to improve the governance of the Institution and make it a key player in multilateralism.
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which came into force in 2021, makes Africa the world’s largest common market and accelerates continental integration. It reinforces the measures taken with regard to the free movement of persons and goods.
He said determination and solidarity had been clearly demonstrated in the face of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. He added that the strong mobilization of African leaders and the effective coordination provided by the African Union in the Continental Response testify to Africa’s ability to meet the challenges in a united and resolute manner.
“In a short time, less than two years, some of our Member States have managed to set up factories for the production of COVID-19 vaccines on their territory.
“The AU Commission has also endeavored to respond, within the limits of its resources, to concerns regarding health, education, infrastructure, energy, science and research, sectors whose promotion and achievement are necessary conditions for Africa’s development,” Mr. Mahamat noted. .
He said that although “the results have not always lived up to our ambitions, we are on the right track. From the targeted pooling of all our energies and geographically dispersed resources will emerge a new Africa, the Africa we want.
Moreover, the only condition for achieving the Africa we want is “to identify and point out, without complacency, the evils that plague our actions and hinder the effective implementation of our Decisions, Treaties, Conventions and Strategies in order to give them the proper treatment,” Mr. Mahamat said.
Chiamaka Okafor is a journalist at Premium Times in partnership with report for the worldwhich pairs local newsrooms with talented emerging journalists to report on under-reported issues around the world.
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