ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, May 25 – Africa must develop its economies, democratize governance, manage its diversity and ensure equitable distribution of resources in order to secure its future in the face of complex challenges facing the continent, President Uhuru Kenyatta has said.
Speaking during the 50th Anniversary of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, President Kenyatta said the next 50 years will be a period of renewal and called for innovative ways to manage diversity while strengthening state structures.
Citing the successes of the Inter-Governmental Agency for Development (IGAD), the president hailed the organisation for promoting unity, peace, stability and development in the Horn of Africa region.
He said with lessons learnt from IGAD, politics in the region must be conducted in a manner that recognizes cultural and environmental differences.
“The cultural fabric of the Horn of Africa is as diverse as its physical environment, and we have come alive to this reality. In this regard, our politics must be conducted in a manner that not only recognizes those cultural differences but also harnesses them to build strong and responsible state structures and indeed nations that respond effectively to the needs of our peoples,” said President Kenyatta.
He said although IGAD started on a narrow mandate to combat desertification, it had transformed itself into a formidable all-rounded organisation to tackle political, economic, social and security issues in the region.
In this connection, President Kenyatta cited the initiation of joint projects such as the Lamu Port-South Sudan -Ethiopia Transport Corridor (LAPSSET) project that will link Kenya, South Sudan and Ethiopia.
“Our main aim is to promote joint development projects that grow our economies rapidly and deepen integration through projects such as the Lamu Port, South Sudan and Ethiopia Transport corridor that will link the three countries of Kenya, South Sudan and Ethiopia, as part of the larger infrastructure network on the continent. Undoubtedly, this will become a driver of our regional integration through greater movement of goods, services and people within the region,” the president said.
President Kenyatta said that with the support of the African Union, IGAD has delivered successful outcomes specifically in Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan and thanked AU for facilitating dialogue and deploying troops in pursuit of peace and stability.
The president described IGAD as a story of renewal driven by a spirit of self-determination and a strong desire to overcome adversities and claim the future.
“It is a story of efforts seeking to enhance state formation, achieve the self-determination of our peoples, pursue peace and stability and deepen democratic governance as a basis for growing our shared prosperity. It is a story forged by our common experiences and grounded on a long history of solidarity,” said President Kenyatta.
He narrated how IGAD member states struggled through a cocktail of challenges after independence but eventually managed to unite against their problems and reaffirmed the need for interdependence and solidarity.
The president said some of the challenges were instability and conflicts, agitation for self-determination and demands for deeper democratization which have led to huge human tragedies and trauma and impeded aspirations for development.
Adding that other problems include intermittent droughts, famine and other natural disasters linked to climate change resulting in resource-based conflicts between communities across the borders.
The president praised Ethiopia for its role in supporting liberation struggle in Africa through provision of material, diplomatic and moral support to liberation struggles.
President Kenyatta also praised IGAD leaders such as Sudan’s President Omar Bashir, late Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi for midwifing historic peace processes in Sudan that led to the birth of South Sudan.