By Chidi Emmanuel
KUWAIT: Africans in Kuwait on Wednesday joined the rest of the continent in marking Africa Day. The celebrations, which commemorated the 60th anniversary of the creation of the Organization of African Unity, the predecessor of the African Union (AU), drew African diplomats in Kuwait, top Kuwaiti officials, expatriates and Kuwaitis. The event, organized by African envoys in Kuwait, featured lots of cultural displays, with each African nation showcasing its cultural heritage in its respective booth.
In his address during the event, Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Salem Al-Abdullah Al-Jaber Al-Sabah affirmed Kuwait’s keenness to continue strengthening cooperation and coordination with African countries, especially in light of the “ambitious and pioneering” Agenda 2063 to transform the continent into a global power. “Kuwait has a historical and strategic relationship with Africa that precedes our own independence. Kuwait is presently hosting 34 accredited African diplomatic missions, making Africa the largest group in the country.
The African Union promotes regional and international peace, security and stability and has proven effective in its efforts to mediate various global conflicts and crises,” Sheikh Salem said, adding that Kuwait is proud to hold the status of Permanent Observer at the African Union. In terms of infrastructural development and investments, the Kuwaiti minister said Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development has heavily invested in critical infrastructure and developmental projects across the continent since its inception in 1961.
“Kuwait will continue to strengthen its cooperation with African nations in light of the ambitious and groundbreaking Agenda 2063, Africa’s blueprint and masterplan for transforming the continent into the global powerhouse of the future,” Sheikh Salem noted. In his remarks, Senegalese Ambassador to Kuwait Ibrahim Al Khalil Seck said Africa Day is an important occasion for the celebration of African culture as well as the continent’s growing resilience. “Today, we celebrate our African heritage and diversity as we showcase African investment potential. Africa Day is a reminder of our struggle to achieve political and economic independence,” the ambassador said.
He called on African expats to be good ambassadors of Africa. On this year’s anniversary, African diplomats highlighted some of the organization’s notable achievements and landmark initiatives, which are aimed at stimulating economic growth, enhancing Africa’s global competitiveness, lifting millions out of poverty and accelerating sustainable development throughout the continent. African Day also featured a food fair, bonanzas, gift offers and cultural dances. “Today, we celebrate our past, present and future, embracing our rich cultural heritage, unity and diversity.
As the continent continues to navigate its path toward development, Africa Day serves as a reminder of the remarkable progress made and the challenges that lie ahead. Let us celebrate Africa’s achievements and work together to build a prosperous and inclusive future for all Africans,” Ruth Nwanede, a teacher, told Kuwait Times. The AU’s anniversary commemorates the historic gathering in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 1963, where 32 heads of independent African states and leaders from African liberation movements charted a path toward Africa’s complete independence from imperialism, colonialism and apartheid.
Africa Day, commemorated annually on May 25, is a momentous occasion that celebrates the unity, resilience and achievements of the African continent. This day holds great significance as it symbolizes the journey toward liberation, self-determination and the collective pursuit of progress. This year marks the 60th anniversary of the signature of its founding charter. AU chose “Acceleration of AfCFTA Implementation” as its theme for 2023. The AfCFTA (African Continental Free Trade Area) is an ambitious trade pact aimed at creating a single market for goods and services for almost 1.3 billion people across Africa and deepening the economic integration of the continent.
When fully implemented, the AfCFTA will be the world’s largest free trade area, with a combined gross domestic product of around $3.4 trillion. Fifty-four of the continent’s 55 countries are signatories to its founding agreement. The AfCFTA is projected not only to lead to job creation, poverty alleviation, improved welfare, and sustainable development but also to ensure inclusivity for women and youth, the development of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and the overall industrialization of the continent, guided by Agenda 2063.