Mombasa - The election of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto is one of the significant signs of Africa’s political maturity, former president Olusegun Obasanjo has said.
He hailed Kenyans for participating in a peaceful election on March 4, saying that political stability is important in taking Africa to the next level of sustainable development.
He was addressing business stakeholders from both private and public sectors across Africa on Wednesday when he opened the fourth Africa governance, leadership and management convention. The theme of this years’ convention was 'Opening Africa to Africa'.
'The need to solidify African unity is urgent'
"There is urgent need for Africa to realise closer continental unity than has been achieved so far, the need to solidify African unity is urgent today as it had been in 1963, at the birth of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the precursor of the present African Union (AU),” he said.
Obasanjo said that a united and integrated Africa was in the spirit of the emerging world order.
“We need to take practical steps towards a united and integrated Africa and make sure there is free movement of goods and people on the continent,” he added.
He urged African leaders to prioritise development of physical infrastructure and human resources in order to open up Africa to Africa.
“We need to make Africa take its place in the global community. To do this, we must take ownership of African issues and provide African solutions to African problems," he added.
He expressed the importance of private and public sectors on the continent working closely across national restrictions saying there is need for more trade and more preference for Africa to Africa cooperation.
“I do not buy the argument that we cannot trade among ourselves because we produce the same commodities. Countries in Europe do the same and yet they trade with each other. Our inability to trade with each other has seen us unable to leverage on each other’s advantages to create large continental markets for ourselves," said the former head of state.
Africa the next frontier of development
Africa, Obasanjo said, is the next frontier of development and there could be no stopping it.
For that reason, he said it was necessary to realise faster integration for the good of the peoples of Africa noting that the process of integration is too important to be left in governments alone.
“The role of government is providing a favorable environment but the private sector must prominently come into the picture,” he noted.
Africa’s private sector, he said, has blurred the national borderlines with at least 30 indigenous African multinationals operation in more than 24 countries in Africa and elsewhere in the world.
“Africa’s integration will happen faster with political goodwill and therefore political leaders should enhance integration by helping African business grow in the continent and beyond,” he said.