Ambassador Donald Teitelbaum, DAS for African Affairs
The Honorable Reverend Jesse Jackson,
Your Excellencies the African Ambassadors and Heads of Mission,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is an honour to welcome you all tonight to celebrate Africa Day with the African Ambassadors Group, which marks the 52nd anniversary of the establishment of the Organization of the African Unity.. now the African Union.
Tonight, we celebrate together Africa’s success story.
Africa is the second fastest growing economic region in the world, with an average growth of 5 percent per annum over the last decade. Our continent has a third of the world’s mineral reserves, a tenth of its oil and it produces two-thirds of its diamonds. But its most precious resource is its people.
Africa is a young Continent. Your our constitute 65% of our population. Over the last decades, life expectancy in Africa has jumped from 40 to 60 years, infant and maternal mortality declined by 50%; there are more children in school, including girls, than at any time in our history, and university enrolment has tripled. Overall, poverty in our continent has declined faster since 2005 than over the preceding fifteen years. Countries which are on the LDC list, regularly top the list of the fastest growing economies in our continent. It is therefore no surprise that, foreign direct investment (FDI) into Africa has risen by an average of 8% in the last 5 years.
Above all, African Women embody this success. Today Africa boasts Women Presidents, Ministers and members of parliament in addition to the Presidency of the African Union Commission. But that is not enough. By declaring this year’s theme “Women empowerment towards achieving Africa Agenda 2063”, The African Union demonstrates our commitment to achieve a sustainable and sound development, in which women and girls are economically, socially and politically enabled. A future in which African women have full access to education, healthcare, and political participation, in which they are protected against gender based violence. Achieving these goals is indeed a pre-requisite for the development of Africa.
Ladies and gentlemen,
During his opening speech at the 2nd Summit of the Organization of African Unity in Cairo in 1964, the late President Gamal Abdel Nasser, said, and I quote: “We all struggled one way or another for independence… But at the moment of triumph, we realized that our destination is nothing but a beginning of other challenges ahead of us… for we need to realize a prosperous, developed, and independent Africa… and it is the spirit of unity among us that matters the most to achieve our shared dream” end of quote.
Despite the progresses that Africa has achieved, this aspiration remains as relevant today as it was more than 50 years ago. Success still depends on the ability of all Africans to work together towards their common goal. Indeed, Africa is taking steady steps towards economic integration. Next month, Egypt will host a historic trilateral summit of three of Africa’s Economic Communities; COMESA, SADC, and the East African Community, in which leaders of Twenty six African Nations will launch a free trade area, a step towards achieving a Pan-African Free Trade Area.
Several flagship projects and pan-African programs of infrastructure, telecommunications, agricultural development, food security, and energy are being implemented under the umbrella of ambitious programs such as the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program, the Program for Infrastructure development in Africa (PIDA) and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).
Africa is no longer dependent on others for its own peace and security…. As a matter of fact Africa is providing a majority of the World’s peacekeepers, and is already implementing the continent’s strategic Peace and Security Architecture, including the establishment of Africa’s Stand by Forces and the interim African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises (ACIRC)…
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As we celebrate this occasion here in Washington, we all appreciate the friendship between Africa and the United States, which provides a successful example of international cooperation. The first ever US- Africa Summit held in Washington last August has marked a turning point in these relations. It has paved the way for an even more diversified and dynamic partnership that will serve our mutual interests.
On this note… I thank you again for honouring us with your presence… And enjoy the rest of the evening.