Seychelles President James Michel has described the African Union (AU) summit and its theme for this year in Johannesburg, South Africa as an opportune time for all the Heads of State and Government to put in place specific programmes that will empower women across the African continent in all aspects of development as well as moving forward by putting people at the centre of development.

Following the summit, President Michel highlighted the importance for the Heads of State and Government of the African Union to meet and discuss agendas that would help Africa to move forward for the next 50 years. He said that Seychelles has also been able to put forward other points that they feel are important such as tourism, air connectivity, information technology, maritime connectivity and other key sectors that lead to people-centred development agendas.

“Like we have been saying all along, Africa is the continent of the future in terms of its resources, manpower and its capacity to develop and become one with a lot of potential. What is important, is that the Union have the conditions that can permit that to happen and this Summit has covered all those conditions. It is good to note that in the previous Ministerial meetings held before the summit, they have discussed lengthily on those agendas, especially on the first ten-year plan that we will be implementing in a concrete manner in relation to infrastructures, human development, education and other sectors that will bring development towards the Agenda 2063,” said the President.

President Michel noted that for this to happen, Africa will need to have peace, stability which is one of the key components for progress and development, democracy, transparency and accountability. He said that all these are conditions that should make Africa united but he noted that unfortunately some countries on the continent do not yet have those conditions in place.

Mr. Michel explained that this year’s theme highlights the importance of empowering the women in Africa. He stated that women are a driving force on the continent, that when given the chance, they can bring a lot of transformation and that in this summit, he has given examples on Seychelles’ achievements.

“It is a theme that is not only of great interest to Seychelles but it also gave the possibility for Seychelles to share with all members of the African Union our success, what we have achieved and we also have some very good examples of what we have done and it was opportunity for Seychelles to share it with other members of the Union, because we believe in women empowerment, we’ve done it and we are doing it. We have achieved success, we have achieved a lot by empowering our women and girls in education, health, shelter, development in general and also with given opportunities to different girls and women of Seychelles for them to move forward and we have seen positive results,” said President Michel.

He continued, “Today Seychelles has move forward into a transformation mode which has no precedent, so I was able to share this with my counterparts in the Summit that if Africa is to move forward we have to empower our women and the pre-requisites are education, health and other proper conditions. Let’s liberate them and give them the opportunities and the resources to move forward and we will see a change. We cannot change Africa with only one hand, we have to change Africa using both hands. So let’s use our women to change Africa”.

The President underlined that the award received at the summit is an achievement for Seychelles, but at the same time an opportune time for the Government to re-look at the different structures and see what Seychelles can do better in making sure that women stay at the forefront of political and social development.
“I think it was also an opportunity for us to share our successes with our African brothers and see how we move forward and as a result we have received an award for Gender Parity Achievements, which is good. It is an opportunity for us to take stock of what we have done and then move forward and do better still, so I think it is a good theme that will Africa forward.”

In relation to the Blue Economy concept and other key agendas, the President said that though there’s still more to be done, he feels that the Heads of State and Government of the African Union are showing the interests and that there’s a strong leadership from the AU Secretariat to push forward those agendas.

As for the Agenda 2063, the President that it unfortunate that some countries on the African continent could not meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) but he feels that those countries are becoming more aware on the necessity to make more effort to improve and move forward in their development.

“Seychelles have achieved most of the MDGs as you know and now we are working towards the post 2015 sustainable development agenda which will be further discussed at the United Nations Summit in September, but for Africa to move forward with towards the agenda 2063, we must first of all, all of Africa meet the MDGs and then move forward with the post 2015 agenda. Working towards sustainable development for the continent, this is the only way forward. And we have to do it with our human resources that we have available,” the President said.

He further stated, “For Africa to achieve the vision of 2063, Africa needs stability and peace. Africa doesn’t need wars, face with problems all the times. Africa needs peace through negotiations and understanding and move forward in partnership so that we can develop our continent and that it becomes really the continent of the future. On the other hand, we have introduced the Eastern Africa Standby Force which may help in the peacekeeping. As the Chair of the EASF, Seychelles has a very important role to play in relation to what is happening in Burundi. ”

Whilst in South Africa, the President also met with three students who are currently undertaking their studies. Joel Edmond who is studying Public Health, Wolfgang Germain who is studying IT application and network with the Monarch University and Marvin Fanny who is specialising in paediatric surgery with the University of Pretoria and Steve Biko Academic hospital. Mr. Michel said that he feels encouraged when he see students taking the chance given to them to develop themselves and coming out with good results. All three students have expressed gratitude to the President and his Government for the opportunity given to them and said that they will definitely come back to their country to help in its development. To note, two other students who are on the Jj Spirit scholarships, could not make it for the meeting due to other commitments.