African standby force - African heads of state and government concluded their 22nd ordinary summit here late Friday, resolved and committed to creating a force that would step in whenever the need arises in any of their countries to stamp out a rebellion.
African Union (AU) Chairperson, Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, said, for the start, volunteer countries have decided to provide forces that constitute a structure “limited in space and time” while the Union prepares the ground for the long-awaited African Standby Force (ASF).
Briefing journalists on the summit outcomes, he said the stand of African leaders was to establish the ASF which will embody several member states.
“Africa should address all imperatives linked to the operationalisation of the ASF ... with all the necessary means in order to resolve crises and conflicts.
“In this regard, the African architecture for governance, based on respect of human rights, the fight against corruption and ensuring the rights of women, among others, remains an imperative to all of us,” he said.
Underlining the place and role of the youth in national and continental development, Aziz said that attention in every country should be paid to the youth in order to guard against any deviation.
“For a united and prosperous Africa, we need to prepare programmes devoted to youth education, especially in scientific and technical skills, in order to upgrade the continent’s human resources,” the Chairperson stressed.
In his view, educated and employed youths would have no inclination to engage in acts of violence and terrorism.
“It is the youth who will lead development efforts of our continent. Though education is the key in preparation of the youth, we have an educational system which is not tailored to our needs in terms of employment and market,” he said.
Aziz said the system must be changed in order to get the youth fully involved in the development of African countries.
On preservation of stability, Aziz said: “Africa should fight terrorism as a transnational crime. Through centres of excellence, the continent will enable its young persons to be globally competitive and productive.”
In a nutshell, the AU Chairperson said that the summit has passed important decisions that will change the continent with regard to the Millennium Development Goals, empowerment of women and youth, eradication of diseases as well as ensuring public security, among others.
Regarding the theme of the summit, ‘2014 Year of Agriculture and Food Security’, which some observers here saw as overshadowed by security issues, Aziz said: “We are all aware of the fact that food security and agriculture are critical to our countries.
“Agriculture is part and parcel of our independence. We need to pay continuous attention to this issue. It remains a priority for us all.”
At this juncture, AU Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma clarified that full discussion about agriculture will take place at the next ordinary summit of the Union in June.
“The summit will be devoted in a large measure to agriculture and food security,” she said.
Meanwhile, Dlamini Zuma said at the same briefing that the AUC was planning meetings with private sector representatives to identify areas in which they can play their part to train the youth.
“We need a conversation with industry to know what they need and how they can assist in training the youth in such areas as mining, petroleum and energy development, construction and so forth,” she said.