Africa was the focus of the global community as the continent’s political leaders gathered in Ethiopia’s capital city of Addis Ababa for the 22nd Ordinary Session of the African Union (AU) Assembly recently.
The two-day summit saw African leaders, unite under the theme ‘2014 - Year of Agriculture and Food Security in Africa, Marking the 10th Anniversary of Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme’.
With the focus on agriculture and food security high on the agenda, the summit discussed the transformation of agriculture, and leaders agreed that despite progress being made in Africa's agriculture, it is now time to renew the commitment to do more in the sector.
Highlighting South Africa’s commitment to doing more, President Jacob Zuma presented South Africa's progress report which showed that in the past decade the country has made great progress in the priority areas, as well as in economic development, social security, health, governance and infrastructure development.
“We have a lot to do on our own to produce more food, but there still is a land issue to resolve, as land is necessary for food production,” said President Zuma.
According to AU Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, “Africa must also improve its human resources for agricultural infrastructure and research that would contribute to boost productivity on the African continent.
She added that South Africa and Africa as a whole still have a vast amount of land that is not utilised, unlike other continents who have already exhausted their lands.
It was agreed that Africa will need to transform its agriculture in order to improve agricultural development and food security.
Trade-enabling infrastructure and job creation were also topics at hand. After successfully hosting the 2010 FIFA World Cup, South Africa was then tasked by the AU to spearhead infrastructure initiatives throughout the continent and President Zuma was unanimously elected the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA)’s president.
He highlighted that South Africa had introduced the National Development Plan (NDP) – the country’s policy framework to eradicate poverty, reduce inequality and create employment by 2030. The plan outlined the country’s intentions of transforming the economy and creating jobs through promoting sectors in which the country has competitive advantage. This includes the minerals sector, agro-processing, mining, manufacturing, construction, general infrastructure and the green economy.
“We are building roads, bridges, dams, schools, hospitals, universities, colleges and a lot of other infrastructure. We believe we are making progress. Very few nations have gone through the repression, subjugation and divisions that we went through and emerged to build a new society and a stable democracy in such a short space of time,” said President Zuma.
“Without infrastructure, our dreams will never be realised. We cannot trade on the continent because of the lack of communication. The infrastructure that we want to create will provide new opportunities for our continent,” he added.
President Zuma's delegation included Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane; Minister of Public Service and Administration Lindiwe Sisulu; Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula; Minister of State Security Dr Siyabonga Cwele; Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Tina Joemat-Pettersson, and Deputy Minister of Public Service and Administration Ayanda Dlodlo.