Remarks By President James Michel President Of The Republic Of Seychelles At The 19th Session Of The Assembly Of The African Union Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Mon, 16 July 2012
Mr. Chairman, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all, please allow me to avail of this opportunity to express our appreciation to H.E Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and our Ethiopian hosts for their warm welcome and hospitality.
Mr. Chairman, dear friends,
It has been a few years since a Seychellois President has addressed this Assembly. But we are here once again for two reasons:
Firstly, we remember very clearly how our own independence would never have come about without the spirit of African unity.
Secondly, it is only through this spirit of African unity that we will achieve Africa’s second liberation – true economic liberation.
And we cannot talk of liberation (economic and otherwise) or of boosting intra-African trade without addressing first of all the main security threats that hamper our ability to develop.
In the Indian Ocean, piracy is further isolating our continent. Piracy prevents us from properly harnessing the power of the blue economy. It is time that Africa redefines its relationship with its oceans. Our oceanic space is currently not given enough attention. Piracy profits from the fact that we, as African Governments, have not done enough to secure this developmental space.
I commend, though, AMISOM for its efforts to provide security and stability in a very difficult situation, and also the Transitional Federal Government as well as regional authorities in Somalia for making efforts to improve the security situation in Somalia as a whole as well as the problem of piracy.
At sea, we must further strengthen our ability as a Continent to act decisively. We must end the impunity of pirates, and pirate financiers. We must work together to claim back our oceans from the forces of anarchy.
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
While we are taking steps to improve African integration, there have been many efforts to improve continental infrastructure to facilitate trade. We have built roads, we have built bridges. We will not succeed fully however if we fail to harness the true potential of our oceans to connect us: to connect us with each other, and to connect us to other continents.
Africa’s islands are critical to facilitate these connections. From the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic, Africa’s islands must not be forgotten. We are the guardians of Africa’s maritime highways. We are the jewels in the crown of Africa!
Seychelles is the smallest African state both in terms of population, and in terms of land area. We are a small nation. But we have realised that we can be a big country when we tap into the potential of our 1.3 million sq. km of Exclusive Economic Zone. We have for example recently concluded with our neighbour, Mauritius, an agreement for the joint management of a further area of 390,000 sq. km of ocean, to further boost the potential resources, that both our populations can benefit from.
The potential shared wealth in Africa’s oceans is boundless. It is OUR wealth. We must work together to ensure that we are the ones to mobilise it for the benefit of our children.
M. Le Président, concernant Madagascar, au nom de la Présidence de la Commission de l’Océan Indien, j’appelle de mes vœux un dénouement rapide de la crise politique qui plonge le pays dans de profondes difficultés économiques et sociales.
Le processus politique toujours à l’œuvre doit trouver son achèvement dans la tenue des élections libres et transparentes, étape ultime pour le retour du pays à l’ordre constitutionnel. Cet objectif central et essentiel est au cœur de la démarche de mobilisation de la Commission de l’Océan Indien et du soutien apporté à l’Union africaine et à la SADC.
La COI continuera d’apporter son soutien dans le processus de sortie de la crise, en jouant davantage son rôle d’organisation de proximité cimentée par des valeurs communes qui unissent les peuples de la région. Il en va de l’avenir de Madagascar bien sûr, mais aussi de celui de notre région et de notre espace continental.
Mr. Chairman, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
We say often that Africa is the continent of the future. It is true, given our resources and potential, but a different picture emerges. One of gloom. Of starvation. Of epidemics and pandemics. Of wars. Of coups d’Etat … How long can we go on like this? What sort of future are we going to bequeath to our children and their children?
Continent of the future and hope – yes! Let’s make it happen, not through empty words or wishful thinking, but through concrete action, unflinching political will and commitment. And we have to make it happen. For the sake of our children. Africa must stand on its own feet and take a good look at the distant horizon. The distant horizon of hope, of fraternity and brotherhood, of peace, of prosperity and progress… It is within our grasp. We must empower our people. We must invest in them. We must develop our economies without squandering our resources. It’s only when we have reached a high level of development that we can achieve political union. It will probably take a few decades more, but there is no reason why we can’t do it. If we apply ourselves to it.
We can do it. Seychelles is proud to be part of this great enterprise.
I am pleased to announce at this summit, that Seychelles will shortly be opening a mission in Addis Ababa.
We look forward to contributing even more towards Africa’s century.
I thank you.