Another African Union (AU) summit has come and gone with the body issuing the usual statements urging the continent to deal with a host of complex problems that hinder economic development in Africa.
The theme of this year's summit was Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance.
Speaking at the opening of the summit, AU Commission chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said the continent is on the rise, but still faces many challenges.
Dlamini-Zuma called on the AU to address these challenges by focusing more on industrialization and economic integration.
She stressed the need for Africa to strike a healthy balance between achieving peace and advancing development and the creation of an Africa Standby Force, for responding quickly in conflict situations.
Speaking before the African Heads of State, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Carlos Lopes, said it was time for Africa to change the way it has been doing things in the past to ensure growth, stability and employment creation.
He said, Africa, from being ‘unflatteringly described only a few years earlier as an open sore on the conscience of humanity, and as the hopeless continent’, is now being widely viewed as being on the rise.
“Thanks to its new image, Africa now enjoys all forms of partnerships with key players in the contemporary international system,” said Lopes.
“The rule of law and respect for private property rights is spreading along with improvements in the financial sector. The telecommunications revolution in Africa and its IT innovations have similarly taken the world by surprise.”
These changes, he added, have lifted Africa out of an era of Afro-pessimism to a new era of Afro-enthusiasm.
“However, any celebration of Africa’s return to the path of growth and its prospects should be cautious, as the continent still faces important challenges which must be urgently and effectively dealt with,” Lopes said.
Meanwhile, a large-scale peace agreement to end fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo that would see more peacekeeping forces enter the region, was delayed Monday over what the United Nations chief called "procedural issues."
A signing ceremony scheduled for Monday at the summit was canceled. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, however, there are no fundamental differences holding back the agreement.
Another issue that seized the AU leaders was the crisis in Mali. Outgoing African Union chairman Thomas Boni Yayi told African leaders that their response to the conflict in Mali had been too slow.
He thanked France for taking the lead in its military intervention in the country.
For more on what African leaders need to do, VOA turned to Marian Tupy, a policy analyst with the Cato Institute’s Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity specializing in the study of Europe and sub-Saharan Africa.
Tupy said good governance is needed immediately as one of the key steps in lifting Africa.
Because AU summits often end with lofty rhetoric, economist Charles Mutasa in Harare said African leaders need to walk the talk this time if they want to move the continent forward.
Lopes said: “Going forward, Africa must use current growth trends as a platform for broad structural transformation. The world may have its own particular interest in a rising Africa, but the growth that must matter for Africans is one that is primarily anchored on their interest and concerns. It must be driven by them on the basis of their priorities and should be capable of delivering structural transformation.”
He further said: “It requires continued efforts to improve governance systems, strengthen state capacities, harness information and communications technologies, promote gender equality, and to mobilize the energy and creativity of Africa’s youth.”