“Today we launch the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM). We are nearly ready to launch the Continental Free Trade Area, and freedom of movement of persons is achievable in 2018,” President Paul Kagame of Rwanda has said.
The Rwandan leader made the commitment on Sunday while delivering his acceptance speech as the new chairperson of the African Union at the 30th session of the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa.
Kagame took over from Guinea’s President Alpha Condé, who was congratulated by delegates for having served the continent well during his tenure.
“President Alpha Condé is a professor, a teacher, and I can safely say that I have learned from him. I have also seen his very big heart for Africa. Please join me in paying tribute to his impeccable service to the continent,” Kagame said about his predecessor.
Kagame, who now takes on the mantle of steering the African Union forward indicated that women and the youth would play key roles in implementing the Africa Prosperity Agenda.
“Africa’s defining challenge is to create a pathway to prosperity for our people, especially young people. Unity must be our starting point. Our people deserve a brighter future. Our job is to make sure that every generation in Africa enjoys a better one than the last. Young Africans, men and women, and you have a full role to play. For women especially whom we need to unreservedly accord their full rights and roles. We cannot build Africa without you,” Kagame said.
The Rwandan leader told the delegates in Addis that he and the ‘commendable African Union Commission’ staff would need the full support of African leaders and that ‘Africa must act quickly’ because ‘we are running out of time’.
The theme of the African Union Summit this year is “Winning the fight against corruption: a sustainable path to Africa’s transformation”.
“Corruption poses real threats to national security, unity and survival. It deprives young Africans of opportunities to lead meaningful lives,” President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria told the Summit after being appointed the champion of this year’s theme.
Buhari pledged to ensure that the anti-corruption agenda gets the attention it deserves and yields the impact hoped for. “Strong institutions are a necessary tool for any society that hopes to fight corruption,” the president advised.