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Ramaphosa officially takes over the African Union (AU) chairmanship

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South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa took over the chairmanship of the African Union for the year 2020, replacing Egypt’s Abdel Fattah el-Sisi who chaired the organisation through 2019.

In his acceptance speech, the South African leader said he would focus on solidifying continental unity, advancing economic growth and empowering women.

“We would like to deepen our work together in ensuring that the unity of our continent is solid and is based on the founding principles that our forebears crafted,” Ramaphosa stated.

Moreover, Ramaphosa stressed that the “collective work to ensure political and economic unity, good governance and peace should be strengthened by supporting integration, industrialisation, economic development, trade, and investment.”

Speaking about advancing the economic growth and sustainable development, he urged the Heads of State and Government to ensure that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) does not become a conduit for products with minimal African value addition to enter and penetrate the continent’s local market under the guise of continental integration.

“There must be a reasonable standard set for what constitutes for a product that is proudly made in Africa,” Ramaphosa emphasised.

The South African President pointed out that “as Africans living in this new era we shoulder all the greatest responsibilities to ensure that our wealth as a continent does not become our poverty, our blessing does not become our curse, and that our endowment does not become our downfall.”

The new chairperson stressed that “it is to us that the task has fallen to build an Africa that is prosperous and at peace with itself. An Africa that is capable of achieving the aspirations that this august body set out in Agenda 2063.”

Infrastructure network linking the entire continent and enabling free movement of goods, people and services are also equally important, he explained.

Women are half of the society, he said, adding that “you cannot have a revolution without women, and you cannot have democracy without women.”

He pledged to declare the years of 2020 to 2030 the decade of African women’s financial and economic inclusion.

 – APA

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