On 9 September 2023, we commemorated African Union Day, a momentous occasion that reflects the journey we have undertaken since the historic Sirte Declaration of 9 September 1999.
It is was a day to celebrate our unity and progress, born from the legacy of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), established on 25 May 1963, whose mandate could be considered as transactional and succeeded in the mission to liberate Africa through the Liberation Committee.
The day therefore signified our profound commitment to the ideals of unity, regional integration and progress among African nations.
Alongside member states, Namibia stands united in celebration of our continent’s rich history, diverse cultures and shared dreams for a better future.
This celebration not only honours our past but also reaffirms our commitment to building a brighter future.
THE VALIANT FIGHT
The First Wave of African leaders, our founding fathers and extraordinary personalities led the valiant fight for an independent African continent.
During the Second Wave of African leadership in the Cold War period, our continent experienced reversals, coups d’état and the rise of one-party states, of which some managed to achieve progress.
The mandate of the African Union is transformational.
However, there have been democratic reversals with the rise in coups and unconstitutional forms of government.
Whenever these happen, it is us Africans (and not others) who consistently have been first to condemn them as regional organisations and African leaders under the African Union.
We can only achieve our true potential when we silence the guns.
Therefore, as the Third Wave of African leaders, who aspire to come to leadership through democratic elections and respect for processes, systems and institutions, we are conscious that our journey towards a prosperous and united Africa requires collective efforts, peace and security, investments in energy, infrastructure development, enhancing regional integration efforts, and creating an enabling environment for businesses to thrive and achieve Agenda 2063.
We are happy that the formation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA) presents considerable opportunities for accelerating intra-African trade, using trade more effectively to transform the continent into a global powerhouse, and realising Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want.
We are encouraged that there has been an increase in intra-African trade and investment, fostering economic cooperation among member states.
The fight against climate change is one of the most urgent challenges of our times, which compels us to adopt clean energy solutions.
Through the Namibian Green Hydrogen Programme, Namibia is commited to playing its part in the development of Africa and the decarbonisation of our planet.
Namibia is committed to a stronger and more effective African Union.
To achieve this objective, there is a need for the role of the chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC) to be strengthened.
The current situation whereby a head of state and government becomes chair of the African Union, assuming a bigger representative role for Africa, results in a situation that undermines the efficacy of the office of the chairperson of the AUC.
While the European Union has a similar architecture of a rotating a six months EU presidency for a head of state and government as opposed to one year for the African Union, Charles Michel as the EU council president and Ursula von der Leyen as EU Commission president, both enjoy wider scope of role recognition, representation and execution.
In celebration of African Union Day, let us remember the visionaries who paved the way for our liberation, the leaders who shaped our institutions, and the countless individuals who strive for a better Africa every day.
Namibia affirms its unwavering commitment to the African Union and its mission to promote peace, security, and development on the continent.
We are ready to work with fellow African nations to build a prosperous and united Africa for all.
Let us harness the power of unity and solidarity to overcome the challenges that lie ahead.
Together, we can build a better future for all Africans. The ‘Africa We Want’ is within reach.
- Hage G Geingob is the third president of the Republic of Namibia