African Union chairman, Benin’s president Yayi Boni on Saturday expressed regret about lack of unity of African countries towards progress of the countinent. “The biggest paradox is that our continent is not united in its way to peace, stability, security, progress, prosperity and development,” president Boni told a dozen heads of State and government at the opening of the AU mini-summit in Cotonou devoted to peace and security on the continent.
“Praiseworthy efforts have been made but what is the situation 50 years after independences?’ he asked while stressing that ‘in any case, there is still a long way to go, particularly in terms of the fight against poverty, the big pandemics and illiteracy’.
“Africa is one of the richest continents on earth, represents more than 20% of the world area of arable lands, covers more than 30 million square metres,’ he said, adding that the continent also had minerals, huge oil and agricultural resources cited among the most important reserves in the world.
‘In terms of human resources, economists say that by the year 2050, Africa will have a population of about 1.8 billion people with more than 60% under 30 years,’ he added.
The meeting will review the situation in Sudan and South Sudan, the rebellion in northern Mali, the threat of the Islamic group of Boko Haram in Nigeria and also the Libyan issue, where the proliferation of heavy and light arms that can be used to destabilise neighbouring countries is a source of concern.
The Cotonou talks will end with a declaration on the basis of which the AU chairman will work with former African leaders for solutions to the present situation facing the continent.
In addition to the issues of peace and security, the AU presidents will look into good governance, democracy and the creation of a free trade zone on the continent to develop intra-African trade.
AU presidents attending the Cotonou summit are Yayi Boni of Benin, Idriss Déby Itno of Chad, Denis Sassou Nguesso of Congo, Alassane Dramane Ouattara of Côte d’Ivoire, Paul kagamé of Rwanda, Jacob Zuma of South Africa, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, Faure Essozima Gnassingbé of Togo, Issifou Mahamadou of Niger, Ali Bongo Odimba Gabon and president Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria.
Ethiopian Prime minister Meles Zenawi and the AU Commission chairman, Jean Ping are also attending the summit.
-Via Afrique en ligne