Newly elected Chairperson of the African Union-AU Robert Mugabe has urged African countries to redouble their efforts towards improving physical infrastructure and interconnecting themselves.
Mr. Mugabe, who is also President of Zimbabwe and Chairperson of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), said lack of good physical infrastructure for road, railway, sea and air transport sectors has hampered economic development on the continent.
In his acceptance speech on his new position as AU chairperson, President Mugabe said that Africa’s current road, rail, air and sea route networks were not sufficiently developed to stimulate intra-African trade, investment and tourism.
“We need to continue, and perhaps redouble, our current collective efforts in this sector. The road and power projects that we are developing are a positive step in our quest to improve African infrastructure,” he said.
Mr. Mugabe, who was elected yesterday, said AU member states should therefore work closely and coordinate with partners that were committed to developing Africa’s infrastructure as envisaged in the continent’s Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA).
And President Mugabe has advised African countries to pay extra attention to value addition and beneficiation of mineral resources, which he said can contribute more meaningfully to poverty eradication in the continent.
“If the present practice of exporting our minerals in their semi or raw form continues, Africa will continue to have people without employment, who languish in extreme poverty,” he noted.
He also said African countries should ensure that their citizens have access to land and should fully harness the continent’s vast agricultural potential.
The incoming AU chairperson further said AU member states should actively champion their interests in the United Nations framework on climate change.
Mr. Mugabe said climate change was posing a great threat to the agriculture sector in Africa.
He added that African countries should also double their efforts in fighting ills such as the turmoil in Libya, terrorism and violence in other member states and the Ebola disease in West Africa.
President Mugabe is taking over from Mohammed Ould Abdel Azizi, who is also President of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania.