Africa Is A Rich Continent With Poor People – Dlamini Zuma

AFRICA is a contradictory place being a rich continent with poor people, African Union Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

She also said development will be very slow in Africa if women are left out. During a cockatil held for her at Melia Habana Hotel on Friday evening, Dlamini-Zuma said only skills and education could be an equaliser for both poor and rich.

“So if we are to be a prosperous continent it means that, we have to ensure that growth and development is really people centred. And skills and education for us is an equaliser because even if you come from a poor family, you come from rich family, but if you both have the skills and education and can get a job, we can create decent employment that’s the quickest way of dealing with poverty,” she said.

    “Africa is a contradictory place. We can call it a rich continent with poor people. They are not poor in talent. Talent is across the world, across humanity, it is distributed evenly. It is how you develop or under develop or not develop the talent. We want to develop those talents so that they can know that if they are having problems, conflicts among themselves they can sit down around the table and resolve those conflicts not through the barrel of the gun, so that they can have a stake in the future, not attracted by extremists, by terrorists because that is the only place they can get an income or excitement of something to do… so all this we have to put the people at the centre and Cuba has done that since the triumph of the revolution.”

Dlamini-Zuma, who earlier met Cuban President Raul Castro and also signed a memorandum of understanding with acting Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs Marcelino Medina, said 2015 was also Africa’s year for women empowerment.

“Let me conclude by saying that this year in Africa is the year for women’s empowerment because we have always recognised that development will be very slow in Africa if women are left out because they are half, more than half the population,” he said.

“But also who here has not come out of a woman? So women are responsible for the other half as well. Without women, none of us would be here. Without women’s rights, there are no human rights. It is our right but it makes economic, social and cultural sense to ensure that African countries are not playing with half their team.” Dlamini-Zuma said Cuba was her other home on the other side of the Atlantic.

“Our Cuban brothers and sisters have actually been with us in the trenches for our liberation against colonialism, apartheid and have been giving the own so that we can be free. They felt that they could not really fully enjoy their freedom if we were not free,” she said.

“Of course they have shown solidarity that is not just amongst partners, friends but solidarity among families because they don’t share the extra, they don’t have that extra, they share the little that they have with us. But I also came here to say thank you for Cuba’s response to the Ebola epidemic.

We had a serious crisis in Africa of the Ebola and a lot of countries pledged infrastructure, which was important and we appreciated, but Cuba was one such country that pledged human resources.

They themselves had not dealt with Ebola. Practically like many other African countries except in the region around the Congo, Uganda but the rest had not. But they knew it was risky but for them their brothers and sisters were in trouble and they had to be there to assist them.

And they worked very well hand-in-hand with our own health workers that were mobilised across the continent, 830-something of them. And they worked across several centres treating and made sure that we were able to turn the corner. So we appreciate it even though it has come from brothers and sisters.

But we do not take it for granted.” Dlamini-Zuma said she travelled to Cuba to also share with what Africa was doing besides the Ebola crisis. She said she informed Cuban authorities that AU heads of state had decided to establish mechanisms to respond to infectious and communicable diseases.

Dlamini-Zuma said the AU would establish a Centre for Disease Control. She said each of the five regions of Africa would have one such a centre on top of a coordinating centre to be housed at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Dlamini-Zuma said Cuba’s help was crucial to the training and equipping of those centres.

She said her delegation spent a lot of time at Cuba’s Institute for Tropical Diseases and also met health workers who had just returned from the Ebola mission in Africa. “In Africa we also want to learn from Cuba in the sense that they do not have a lot of resources in terms of natural resources.

Men work in a diamond mine in Banengbele
They do not have diamonds, gold, a lot of oil, gas and all of these things but they have been able to invest in their most precious resource which is their people. We also want to concentrate on investing in our most precious resource because we believe that if we invest in our people, we sharpen them when they are young, innovative, they need to be given the necessary skills, that is why in Agenda 2063 we talk about skills revolution,” said Dlamini-Zuma.

“Because that is what we need in Africa for our young people to ensure growth, food security for our continent. As the population is growing and we continue to grow we need to be able to feed, but if we utilised our arable land and resources that we have we could also be able to feed most parts of the world. So we are looking at all those things.

And of course we are saying, we want to create a prosperous and peaceful integrated and people centred continent. A lot of people say to us that the 2063 AU Agenda is an ambitious agenda. If it is, why should it not be ambitious? Why should we not be ambitious of ourselves? We are aware that there are serious constraints that we have to deal with.

One of those constraints is infrastructure particularly in energy, transport – all modes of transport – air, sea, rail and road. Though they are constraints, they are also opportunities for those who want to partner with us, to invest in our continent.

We are also looking at manufacturing, industrialisation, pharmaceuticals, agro-processing value addition to our natural mineral resources.”

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Source: Post Zambia

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