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Looking East boosted Africa's global footing

Updated: 2016-07-17 10:33
By Lucie Morangi in Kigali, Rwanda (chinadaily.com.cn)

Looking East boosted Africa's global footing

Specioza Kazibwe, AU Chairperson contender, hopes to further Sino-Africa relations if elected. Provided to chinadaily.com.cn

China's pragmatic and business-like approach with Africa has proved beneficial in the wake of donor fatigue, slowing global growth and falling commodity prices. Specioza Kazibwe of Uganda, candidate for the African Union Commission's (AUC) chair, said the Sino-African relationship has buoyed Africa's engagement in global standing as it moved away from aid dependency.

"I believe the policy is the best way forward for Africa. Any other deviation will curtail Africa's ambitions towards self sustainability and independence," said the former vice-president and candidate endorsed by the East Africa region.

She spoke on the sidelines of the ongoing 27 Africa Union Summit that, among other critical issues, will see a new AUC chair and vice-chair, together with eight commissioners elected. While her campaign for the top-job entered the home stretch, Kazibwe, who was the first African woman to occupy a senior government office, said she would work towards furthering the partnership.

"I have been involved with China since my term in government and I know their engagements with different African countries. They have supported the AUC before and this has been to the benefit of Africa," she said, adding that areas identified for closer cooperation during the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in South Africa last year are critical to both partners.

Kazibwe pointed out that transport and energy infrastructure development, planned industrial transfer, capacity building and poverty eradication projects identified by the two partners will stem the migration of African youth and professionals to the west.

"Africa is second to China in terms of economic growth yet our youth are leaving to economies that have stagnated. The continent is in need of labor as we embark on implementing Agenda 2063 that aims at building a prosperous and united Africa. I believe it is time to invest in research and development to spur innovation in our mining sector. We want to stop exporting raw materials and invest in beneficiation. We can build on our competitiveness," she said.

A champion of women's and female child rights, she says Africa has made progress in meeting resolutions agreed to during the Beijing forum in 1995 that ran under the theme of peace and education. While gains in education are visible, peace in Africa still seems elusive.

"That is why I have put peace and conflict resolution as my priority engagement when elected as AUC chairperson," the Ugandan candidate said.

She said Africa needs to put effective and relevant climate change policies in place as it pushes towards industrialization.

A medical doctor by profession, Kazibwe is running against Botswana's foreign affairs minister, Pelonomi Venson-Maoitoi, the Southern Africa candidate, and Agapito Mba Mokyu of central Africa, Equatorial Guinea's foreign minister.

The Summit will end on Monday.


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