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BY STAFF WRITER, JUNE 13 2015, Business Day (South Africa)
PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma extended a warm welcome to the heads of state, the government and delegations to the 25th Ordinary African Union (AU) Summit‚ saying South Africa was well prepared to host the summit‚ which is anticipated to discuss critical issues of socioeconomic development‚ peace and security and many others affecting the continent.
“South Africa is truly honoured to host the leadership of our continent for this crucial summit‚” said Mr Zuma. The summit is being held under the theme “Year of Women Empowerment and Development towards Africa’s Agenda 2063”.
The summit begins on Saturday when heads of state and the government begin deliberating in meetings of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development Heads of State Orientation Committee and the African Peer Review Mechanism forum. “We are pleased to host the most important continental summit on our shores which will discuss key important issues such as the economy of the continent‚ infrastructure development‚ peace and security as well as issues of health and human development,” said Mr Zuma.
“The summit will further discuss how‚ as the continent‚ we can work together to achieve the objectives of Africa’s Agenda 2063 vision. We are expecting a very positive and fruitful summit that will yield positive outcomes. “Heads of state and government will also receive progress reports from the executive council of ministers on issues that we discussed in the previous summit and take decisions that will move the continent forward‚” he said.
Intra-Africa trade is one of the issues that are expected to take centre stage at the summit‚ which Mr Zuma said should be expedited to grow the economy of the continent and pave the way to prosperity for Africa as a region. “All economic blocks in the continent need to work together to improve regional intra-trade which is very important for the growth of our economy‚” said Mr Zuma.
He said that the African Union would work together with the Brics New Development Bank and other institutions to achieve Africa’s goals. Mr Zuma further emphasised the importance of Africa being enabled to beneficiate mineral resources within the continent. “This is the reason why as leaders we have agreed that we can no longer have our mineral resources processed outside the continent‚ all our resources should be processed here in Africa to fully benefit our people‚” he said.
The president kicked off the AU Summit programme on Friday by participating in the AU Presidential Golf Challenge which aims to raise funds for the African Union Foundation. He said the golf challenge was a perfect tool to raise funds for the AU which was an indication that the continent was prepared to finance its activities and become financially independent.
“This is a good initiative by the office of the AU Commission chairperson and as leaders we are committed to grow the purse of the African Union and as South Africa we fully support this initiative.
“We have decided to hold the golf challenge every year in South Africa and we appeal to business people across the continent to participate in these activities which will help the AU to create a conductive environment to do business. We will also appeal to all countries in the continent to hold at least one fundraising activity that will help grow the coffers of the African Union‚” said Mr Zuma.