The recently concluded African Union elections for the commission’s chair have heralded a new dawn, and come at a time when the continental body continue to loose clout and gravitas in the international geopolitics due to perceived lackadaisical approach and attitudes to matters that are at the heart of the continent.
Indeed the mention of the African Union evokes perceptions of an association of kleptocracies keen only on advancing personal interests even as the world looks at the bloc to fulfill the needs and aspirations of its people.
The election of Chad’s Foreign Affairs Minister Moussa Faki Mahamat at the helm of the Union is already inspiring hope in several quarters. Unlike his predecessor South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma who was accused of being aloof, out of touch with African problems and taking too much time to concentrate on her own political ambitions back home, Mr. Mahamat has a track record of addressing a vortex of Africa’s calvaries key among them insecurity. In his foreign affairs docket in Chad he has taken the front seat in the fight against Islamists in Mali, Nigeria and Sahel catapulting him to international stardom. In fact right after his election his maiden speech envisioned an Africa where “the sound of guns will be drowned out by cultural songs and rumbling factories.”
And indeed For Mahamat, the in tray is full, for beyond the lofty walls at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa Ethiopia, is a litany of problems, old and emerging, littered across Africa that calls for his immediate attention. The rise of radical groups and a growing list of frustrated youth who are finding refugee and comfort in these extremist groups is the continent’s greatest headache. The 2016 Global Terrorism Index shows that the deadliest jihadist group by number of casualties globally isn’t ISIS but Nigeria’s Boko Haram. Even more harrowing is the revelation by National Counter terrorism Center that out of the 18 fully operational ISIS branches, eight are in Africa. Then there the migration puzzle, the ever growing reality of climate change and drought and a growing list of countries degenerating into orgies of politically instigated violence and dwindling democratic space.
Still Africa continues to be one of the most desirable investment destinations with seven of the 10 fastest-growing economies in the world being in Africa. Mahamat should therefore rise to the occasion, steward Africa out its current labyrinth while inspiring confidence and hope in a continent billed as a land of plenty.