Africa's 50-year dream

2014-01-30 15:24
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. (File, AFP)

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. (File, AFP)

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Addis Ababa - High-speed railways, a common language, diplomatic clout, cutting-edge fashion and leadership in space exploration: this was the vision of a transformed Africa laid out before a continental summit on Thursday.

In a speech to the African Union, the 54-member bloc's chief Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma provided a foresight of what Africa could be like in just 50 years' time, providing some welcome distraction to an agenda dominated by conflict.

Written as a message to a hypothetical friend in 2063, Dlamini-Zuma spoke of a "grand reality" where a new Confederation of African States has replaced the AU.

"At the beginning of the 21st century, we used to get irritated with foreigners when they treated Africa as one country: as if we were not a continent of over a billion people and 55 sovereign states! But, the advancing global trend towards regional blocks, reminded us that integration and unity is the only way for Africa to leverage its competitive advantage," she said.

"We did not realise our power, but instead relied on donors, that we euphemistically called partners," she said.

She spoke of a future Africa with "regional manufacturing hubs" in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola and Zambia, as well as "Silicon valleys" in Rwanda, Egypt, Nigeria and Kenya, and of equal access for women to education and business ownership.

"We lit up Africa"

The future Africa, Dlamini-Zuma said, was also a leader in renewable energy, with war a thing of the past.

"We lit up Africa, the formerly dark continent, using hydro, solar, wind, geo-thermal energy, in addition to fossil fuels," she told delegates at the summit in Addis Ababa.

"Some magazine once called us 'The hopeless continent', citing conflicts, hunger and malnutrition, disease and poverty, as if it was a permanent African condition. Because of our experience of the devastation of conflict, we tackled the root causes," she said.

She spoke of a future African Space Agency, a modern, continent-wide telecommunications infrastructure and an Africa where young people can tour the continent on high-speed rail links much in the same vein as Europe's InterRail system.

"Our grand-children still find it very funny how we used to struggle at AU meetings with English, French and Portuguese interpretations," she said, describing an Africa half a century into the future where the languages of the former colonial powers have been replaced by the new lingua franca Swahili.

She described Kinshasa as having eclipsed Paris and Milan as fashion capital of the world, and Accra as upstaging Brussels as the home of gourmet chocolate.

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