Statement by Honourable Dr. Lemogang Kwape Minister of International Affairs and Cooperation on the Occasion Marking Fifty-Eight Year Since the Establishment of the African Union

Fellow citizens and compatriots,

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Africa Day celebrations present a special opportunity for us not only
    to celebrate our landmark achievements, but to also reflect on our
    future prospects.
  5. 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).
  6. 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.


  1. 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.
  2. 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.


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 Continent.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.


  1. 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
  2. As I conclude, I wish to reiterate Botswana’s full commitment to the
    African Union and its blueprint Vision of Agenda 2063.
  3. I thank you for your kind attention and may God bless this great