Ghana on Thursday renewed her commitment towards the building of a strong and more vibrant African Union (AU), to enable the continent take its rightful position in the world.
Mrs Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, said Ghana would continue to invest tremendous political and financial capital towards the future of the AU.
Speaking at the flag-raising ceremony to mark the 54th AU Day in Accra, Mrs Botchwey said: “For the Government therefore, this 54th Anniversary is not a celebration of the past, but an opportunity to renew Ghana’s commitment to an organisation that we were very instrumental in founding”.
The event on the theme “Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investment in the Youth”; was attended by traditional rulers, members of the Diplomatic community in Ghana, Ministers of state, Parliamentarians, members of the security forces, the clergy and students.
Mrs Botchwey and Mrs Pavelyn Tenda Musaka, the Zimbabwean High Commissioner to Ghana and Dean of the Diplomatic Community jointly inspected a guard of honour parade mounted by members of the security forces.
Mrs Botchwey said the theme for the celebration could not be more appropriate considering significance and centrality of the youth in the present context of national development and their aspirations towards continental prosperity.
She said it was a statement of fact that the youth in all nations were the bedrock of national development and therefore, had an interest in policies and institutions that concerned and shaped their future.
“In spite of this, we are confronted with daunting statistics that indicate that the youth are being giving the priority that they deserve, both in the formulation of individual government policies across African countries and at the continental level.
“They are in several instances the first casualties in armed conflicts and of the stark realities of poorly managed economies and of the competition for political power,” she said.
“As leaders and policy framers, we need to make a clear statement and focus our collective attention on unleashing the energies of Africa’s youth towards national development and ultimately continental unity and prosperity.
“After all they are our future leaders,” the Foreign Minister added.
She said: “On this note, it is imperative to state that it is our collective responsibility, particularly the youth, to commit to the preservation of the rich and irreplaceable heritage bequeathed to us by our heroic forebears.”
“May our shared vision of ‘An integrated prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the international arena’ soon become a reality.”
Mrs Botchwey hailed the pioneering role Ghana’s first President, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah played as a pillar in the formation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), the predecessor of the AU, was founded on May 25, 1963, in Addis Baba, Ethiopia.
The AU was formed in the wake of the collective quest by African leaders, at the time, to work together in seeking the political emancipation of the African continent from the shackles of colonialism and the ills of imperialism.
Currently the AU Day is being observed as a statutory public holiday in Ghana, The Gambia, Mali, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
President Alpha Conde of Guinea, AU Chairman, in a statement read on his behalf by Mrs Musaka paid a heartfelt tribute to the founding fathers of the AU.
He urged African leaders to invest in the youth, who were the future leaders for the continent’s socio-economic development.