Fellow citizens and compatriots,
- The 25th of May marks a historic day on the African Continent. It
was on this day in 1963 that the Organisation of African Unity was
founded. It is now fifty-eight (58) years since its formation and
nineteen years ago, evolved to become the African Union.
- As it may be recalled, Botswana joined the African Union a month
after attaining independence in 1966, and today we proudly stand
with our African brothers and sisters as we celebrate the milestones
achieved thus far through our continental body.
- It is therefore befitting that I take this opportunity, on this special
day, to pay tribute to African men and women who bore the brunt of
racial discrimination and deprivation of basic fundamental rights and
freedoms. Despite the injustices faced, they had a common aim,
great resolve and collective purpose to secure a better future for this
continent and its peoples.
- Africa Day celebrations present a special opportunity for us not only
to celebrate our landmark achievements, but to also reflect on our
- It is indeed an opportune moment for us to also reflect on the
Union’s transformation over the years, its shortcomings and
successes. The principles of self-determination, freedom and political
independence were and still are the cornerstones of the Union and
key components for development. Regrettably, today we still have
some countries on the Continent that have not attained their political
independence and self-determination such as Saharawi Arab
Democratic Republic (SADR).
- We therefore need to continue to speak with one voice to support
and stand in solidarity with the people of Saharawi Arab Democratic
Republic and call for their political emancipation through the African
Union, the United Nations and other relevant bodies.
- This year’s celebrations are in line with the AU Theme for 2021, “Arts,
Culture and Heritage: Levers for Building the Africa we Want”.
This theme is aligned to Aspiration of the Continent’s Agenda 2063,
which calls for an Africa with a strong cultural identity, common
heritage, shared values and ethics. The theme calls for Member States
to invest more resources in promoting national and regional cohesion
by investing in African Culture and heritage as a vehicle for promoting
and achieving the national economic and social development.
- This theme resonates well with our aspirations, as is in line with the
great value we place on our culture and heritage. Among others, as a
nation, we continue to engage and consult our traditional leaders,
namely members of Ntlo Ya Dikgosi in making key decisions. Ntlo ya
Dikgosi plays a key role in assisting Government to ensure that our
heritage and culture underpin our development goals.
- This year’s celebrations are being held at a time when the Continent
is still grappling with the challenges of COVID-19 pandemic. Many
African countries are facing a bleak future as economies have been
negatively affected by this scourge.
- The pandemic has the potential to erode the progress made by the
Continent in the fight against poverty and other social ills. It is
therefore imperative that we double our efforts and work closely
together to prevent the disease from spiralling out of control,
claiming more lives and further affecting livelihoods.
- However, notwithstanding this, the pandemic has provided an
opportunity for the Continent to re-examine its socio-economic
priorities and strategies to achieve sustainable development within
a reasonable period of time.
- Thus, in our quest to promote sustainable socio-economic
development, we have identified through our Continental Vision of
Agenda 2063, 16 key Flagship Projects which we have to effectively
implement. These include the African Continental Free Trade Area
(AfCFTA), which came into operation in January 2021 and aims to
provide a single Continental market for goods and services within
- The AfCFTA endevours to bring together all African countries with a
combined population of more than one billion people and a
combined gross domestic product of more than 3.4 trillion US
dollars (USD) thus creating the largest free trade area in the world.
- It is estimated that once fully operational, the AfCFTA has the
potential to reduce the number of people living in poverty in the
SADC region by 3.9 million. Botswana is therefore working very
closely with the rest of the AU Member States to ensure that the
Continental bloc realises its potential and brings about the
envisioned economic benefits.
- The recently opened Kazungula Bridge between Botswana and
Zambia is one of the major milestones under the African Union
integration Agenda. The Bridge is a testament of Botswana’s
commitment to Regional and Continental integration as it allows
efficient transportation of goods between Botswana and Zambia
and enhances trade throughout the continent.
- Against this backdrop, as we commemorate this important day, I
encourage us to continue to take advantage of the opportunities
provided by our forefathers and foremothers to realise an
integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa.
- As I conclude, I wish to reiterate Botswana’s full commitment to the
African Union and its blueprint Vision of Agenda 2063.
- I thank you for your kind attention and may God bless this great