Africa is a continent of huge opportunities which must be capitalised on in order for it to succeed, says incoming African Union Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.
“We are a continent of great possibilities. We are a continent on the move. We have lots of opportunities and if we use them we will fly… if we don’t use them we will always be a continent of lost opportunities,” Dlamini Zuma said during a meeting with the African Diplomatic Corps based in Tshwane on Monday.
Dlamini Zuma, 63, is expected to take up her seat in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in mid-October as the first woman chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC).
The home affairs minister had already said farewell to her department, and South African President Jacob Zuma is expected to make an announcement regarding Cabinet changes soon after she departs on 12 October.
Dlamini Zuma told diplomats in Tshwane on Monday that she considered her new role as a big challenge but one with lots of opportunities. “I’m going to be a humble servant of all Africans,” she said.
She noted that while there was much diversity of the African continent, there were many elements that united the continent, and that was where the focus should be.
In addition, Africa needed to give attention to its huge population which was an enormous advantage.
“If we look at ourselves collectively we are very strong, but if we look at ourselves individually we become weak,” Dlamini Zuma stressed.
While many countries in the world had to deal with the challenge of an ageing population, Africa was fortunate to have a young population.
This young population was a huge opportunity and resource and if handled correctly would ensure that the continent’s development and economic growth took a different trajectory, she pointed out.
Another matter on Dlamini Zuma’s mind was that of food security.
Other issues of importance for the continent included ensuring that mineral resources were used to benefit people, sustainable development, food security, renewable energy, women’s rights including the high maternal mortality rate, trade between African countries and integration, she said.
DRC Ambassador to South Africa and Dean of the African Diplomatic Corps, Bene M’Poko, said the African Union had a fighter, a deliverer and a very committed person as chair of the AUC.
Everything Dlamini Zuma touched turned to gold, he pointed out.
M’Poko said he was confident that, given the challenges facing the continent, Dlamini Zuma was the right person for the post.