ADDIS ABABA, May 27 (Xinhua) — As the African continent marks the 60th anniversary of the founding of the then Organization of African Unity (OAU), now the African Union (AU), realizing continental unity and development took center stage.
The African continent on Thursday marked “Africa Day,” which is observed annually on May 25 to celebrate the achievements of the pan-African bloc from its creation on May 25, 1963. Since 32 heads of independent African states signed the OAU Charter creating Africa’s first post-independence continental institution in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital back in May 1963, the OAU-AU has been at the forefront of continental unity.
According to Chairperson of the AU Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat, the founding of the OAU was the outcome of the collective quest for political freedom, peace and social prosperity, as an essential prerequisite for development. As a continental bloc, the OAU, among other things, is credited for its role in promoting understanding among Africa’s peoples and foster cooperation among African states in response to the aspiration of solidarity, in a larger unity transcending ethnic and national differences.
With the launch of the AU back in July 2002 in Durban, South Africa, the African continent embarked on harnessing its potential, refocusing the attention from the fight for decolonization and ridding the continent of apartheid, which had been the focus of the OAU, towards increased cooperation and integration of African states to drive Africa’s growth and economic development.
For the past two decades, the AU is guided by its vision of building “an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena.” To ensure the realization of its objectives and the attainment of the “Pan-African Vision” of an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, Africa, under the umbrella of the AU, developed the Agenda 2063 as a blueprint and masterplan for transforming the continent into the global powerhouse of the future. Agenda 2063 encapsulates not only Africa’s aspirations for the future but also identifies key flagship programs, which can lead the rapid economic growth and transformation of the continent.
As the African continent, under the umbrella of the AU, strives to realize its common socio-economic development, cooperation with China has yielded meaningful outcomes in health, poverty reduction, agricultural development, infrastructure, green development and other fields.
According to figures from the Chinese Mission to the AU, since the beginning of the 21st century, China and Africa have cooperated to build more than 10,000 km of railways, nearly 100,000 km of highways, and a network service covering nearly 700 million user terminals in Africa. China has been Africa’s largest trading partner for 13 years in a row, and the trade volume exceeded 280 billion U.S. dollars in 2022.
Over 50 African countries have signed the Belt and Road cooperation documents with China, while landmark projects such as the AU Conference Center, the Africa CDC headquarter, the Mombasa-Nairobi Railway and the Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway, continue to emerge. Francis Ikome, Chief of Regional Integration Section of the Regional Integration and Trade Division at the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), said China has continued supporting infrastructure development on the continent, closing Africa’s infrastructure gap at the national and regional levels.
“Deepening and expanding the longstanding Sino-Africa partnership will undoubtedly be a major enabler to the fulfillment of Africa’s aspirations as articulated in Agenda 2063, as well as meeting the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda,” Ikome said recently.
Mohammed Belhocine, AU commissioner for Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, said that China has played an important and growing role in executing joint cooperation with AUC and its member states, notably under the FOCAC framework.”There is no doubt that this intensified cooperation in various sectors, especially in capacity building, has contributed and will continue to contribute to promoting human capital and a higher economic growth in the continent,” he said.
AU Commissioner for Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development Minata Samate Cessouma, described China as a “big partner for Africa.” ” Our wish is to continue this cooperation with China; to exchange experience with them and to see how we can achieve our aspiration, the Agenda 2063 – the Africa We Want,” Samate Cessouma told Xinhua in a recent interview.
According to Costantinos Bt. Costantinos, professor of public policy at the Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia, China and Africa have shown practical cooperation by closely coordinating and cooperating on major international and regional issues, ultimately upholding the spirit of multilateralism.