Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - Africa needs to find a way of making agriculture attractive to young people who can become an engine for industrialization, African Union Commission (AUC) chairperson, Dr. Nkozasana Dlamini Zuma, has said. Dlamini Zuma was addressing a news conference Wednesday in Addis Ababa on “Agriculture and Food Security” as the theme of the 30-31 January 22nd ordinary summit of AU heads of State and Government.
According to the South African diplomat, in almost all African nations the majority of people involved in agriculture are old persons in a continent where about 75% of the population is below the age of 25 years.
To reverse such a trend, she said, it is important to make young people develop interest in agriculture because 'we can't achieve the Africa we want unless we invest in the youth', while making sure, at the same time, that women do not remain farm workers only but also farmers.
In her view, being farmers means that women have access to capital; that they are able to form co-operatives, process food and become competitive.
This is because agriculture has potential to “transform our continent and is an important way of sharing prosperity”, Dlamini Zuma said, recalling that, unlike other continents, Africa has plenty of natural resources, including huge land and maritime spaces and inexhaustible arable lands.
Therefore, she noted, it is important to concentrate on these resources “to see how to change things; what type of infrastructures do we need to improve productivity and how do we influence the prices of our products to be able to add value”.
Dlamini Zuma explained that to find answers to these and other relevant questions is one of the reasons why the AU Commission has launched stakeholders consultations across the continent to raise awareness and inputs towards achieving “the Africa we want”.
The consultations aim at obtaining more information, perspectives and suggestions from everyone, including ordinary citizens, academics, media people, governments and others, to develop the draft Framework Document of the Agenda 2063 for Africa, she said
'When completed, we want everyone to own it. Not only the governments but everyone, so that everyone will say, yes, this the Africa I want' .
According to the AU Commission, the aspirations of the Agenda 2063 include achieving a prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development, a transformed continent where economic growth is translated into equitable wealth and employment creation.
Agenda 2063 predicts an integrated continent, capable of mobilizing its own financial resources, reliant on trade not aid, politically united that can speak with one voice and based on ideals of Pan-Africanism.