The Rwandan envoy to China, Amb. Charles Kayonga, has called upon African leaders to empower their countries’ citizens to reach their full potential and march towards a more affluent future.
The envoy, who currently doubles as the representative of the Chairperson of the African Union in China, was addressing ambassadors and other diplomats in Beijing during the celebration of “Africa Day”.
“On this day, we celebrate the continent’s accomplishments, while advocating for our total liberation. Total liberation of Africa implies not only achieving political freedom and independence, but also attaining economic development and prosperity for our people,” Kayonga said during the weekend event.
This, he said, can only be fully attained if the African son and daughter are empowered with the ability to realise their full potential and be able to live a good life.
The increasing young population on the continent presents both challenges and opportunities and, if well utilised, they can increase productivity, Kayonga said, adding that we need to tap into these opportunities and make certain of a thriving continent.
Ahead of the Africa Day celebrations, there were various public lectures and business forums organised throughout the week around universities in Beijing, with the objective of accelerating African Liberation Day through good governance, business and creative industry.
The Day is internationally celebrated on May 25, and marks the anniversary of the creation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), which was later rebranded to African Union (AU).
During the ceremony, the Vice Chairperson of the Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress, Cao Jamming, commended the AU for creating an atmosphere of unity and solidarity within the continent.
“The older generation of African leaders such as Presidents Nkrumah and Nyerere held high the banner of Pan-Africanism and led African countries to independence and liberation,” he said, adding that the past 55 years have been an expedition of pursuing independence and freedom, progress and development.
He noted that China has been a firm supporter of Africa in its pursuit of strength through unity and integration, and always views its relations with the AU from a strategic and long-term perspective.
“In recent years, we have seen frequent exchanges of high-level visits, fruitful results in practical cooperation, and enhanced coordination in international and regional affairs between the two sides,” he said.
“China-AU cooperation has become an important engine for the growth of China-Africa relations,” he said.
“Africa has made progress after its independence, and honours much indeed the great friendship with China. The continent is poised to take its destiny in its own hands and to march towards a more prosperous future in which the citizens are empowered to reach their full potential and live a happy life.”
Victor Sikonina, the Ambassador of Madagascar and Dean of the African Diplomatic Corps in China, noted that Africa Day “confers us again with the opportunity to present Africa in its ascent to mark its determination to be a major and responsible actor in the concert of nations, facing challenges of our time.”
“Africa has achieved the historic leap from the Organisation of African Unity to African Union and enjoyed a strong momentum of solidarity for peace and development that is irreversible. The AU is now a leading advocate for development through unity and integration,” he said.
At a business forum earlier, the African Ambassadors’ group introduced the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the Single African Air Transport project to Chinese investors.
Once into force, AfCFTA will make Africa the largest trading bloc in the world.
African countries are now actively pushing for Agenda 2063, which aims at creating prosperity on the continent and will be realised through promotion of regional peace and stability and deepening economic integration.
Despite some prominent external risks and uncertainties, Africa today is pressing ahead with great drive and vibrancy.