AFRICA DAY: The AU can and should excel in its mission

Tuesday May 25 2021
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By The Citizen Reporter

Today, May 25 – bar unexpected developments of catastrophic proportions – the 55 member countries of the African Union (AU) commemorate, celebrate and otherwise mark Africa Day.

The countries include Rwanda, which has been a member of the AU – and also a member of its precursor, the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) – since May 25, 1963.

Established in May 1963 by 32 politically independent African nations at the time, OAU was the continent’s first post-independence continental institution: a manifestation of the pan-African vision for a united Africa that’s free and able to control its own destiny.

On September 9, 1999, the OAU Heads of State and/or Government issued the Sirte (Libya) Declaration calling for the establishment of an African Union to accelerate the integration processes.

And that was how AU was formally launched in Durban, South Africa, on July 9, 2002, with the vision of “an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena”.

One of AU’s multiple aims is to “achieve greater unity and solidarity between African countries and their people”.


Fair enough, we say.

Indeed – what with one thing leading to another – the authorities decided in due course of time ad events that May 25 should be Africa Day (formerly African Freedom Day, and African Liberation Day) to commemorate the establishment of OAU on May 25, 1963.

We also urge the AU moguls to seriously consider empowering more women in the organisation. We are proud of Ms Nkosaza Dlamini-Zuma, who was the first female chairman of the AU Commission from July 15, 2012.

And, the next AU summit should be interesting. It will be attended by, among other leaders, Tanzania’s first female head of state, President Samia Suluhu Hassan, and US President Joe Biden, who has pledged support for Africa.

Transform banana farming

Bananas are an important staple in East Africa. However, banana farming in this part of the world is only at a fraction of its potential.

That is why banana farmers in Uganda and Tanzania can only produce a paltry nine percent of their annual production potential. This notwithstanding, what the two countries are actually producing annually amounts to half of all bananas produced on the African continent.

Experts are of the view that banana farming in East Africa is severely constricted by the continued growing of low-yielding varieties. This shortcoming is further compounded by frequent and widespread pest attacks and diseases.

As part of wider efforts to improve banana farming in East Africa, the Nigeria-based International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) is coordinating a five-year programme known as Breeding Better Bananas (BBBs).

BBBs has outlined measures that are meant to exponentially increase production of the crop across East Africa. This is an opportunity banana growers must not let pass.