Friday, July 1, 2011

Equatorial Guinea Offers to Host African Union Youth Corps Headquarters

Proposal is part of AU chairman’s push for Africa to provide the resources, talent, and commitment to resolve its problems.

Equatorial Guinea’s President, Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, made a push yesterday for his country to host the headquarters of the African Union (AU) Youth Corps, an institution the AU agreed to establish a year ago at its summit meeting in Abuja, Nigeria.

President Obiang, who is the current rotational chairman of the AU, made the offer yesterday in remarks opening the 17th African Union Summit in this city. Youth empowerment is the main theme of this year’s summit meeting.

“As the city in which this subject was discussed, and with the goal of overcoming obstacles to its financing,…we ask that the headquarters of the Youth Corps be located in this new City of the African Union,” President Obiang said. He had previously announced that the area in which the Summit took place, in the Malabo suburb of Sipopo, would be named in honor of the African Union. The AU Summit was the first event held in the newly developed area, which the country is developing as a center for tourism and international conferences.

The offer was consistent with calls President Obiang has made throughout his AU presidency for Africa to act more assertively to resolve its own problems, including accepting greater financial responsibility and thereby retaining greater control and sovereignty.

“Without rejecting financing from outside Africa, our states must assume the responsibility to finance our common institutions if we want to strengthen their capacity,” he said in his address.

“It is a fundamental matter of pride, if we want to avoid the interference that we are subject to and obtain equal treatment in international economic relations.” He reminded his African counterparts, “There is a saying: ‘He who divides and shares always takes the bigger share.’ There for, he who pays calls the shots."

In offering to host the African Youth Corps headquarters, President Obiangcommitted the resources of his government to the effort to harness the energy of youth and provide youth with greater opportunity.

“In Equatorial Guinea, we believe that young people are the determining factor in the development process of a society,” President Obiang said. “They are a live force capable of creating innovation and spurring development in the country in general.”

“In order to adequately take advantage of the capabilities of young people,” he advised, “governments must establish systems and mechanisms that allow young people access to training, new technology, employment, participation in public life, and social integration without any kind of discrimination.”