Mr President, Your Excellencies, honoured guests, ladies and gentlemen.

President Obasanjo and President Mbeki have called on us to make the 21st century the African century.  They have said that the time has come for Africa to emerge from a long period of darkness and fear into one of light and a dream fulfilled.  They have called for the establishment of a New Partnership for Africa’s Development to translate this dream into reality.

The question that I would like to ask today is: how is this going to happen?  What will we as Africans have to do to turn this dream into reality? What will our governments have to do?  What will the world have to do?

The challenges and the problems are great:

many African countries are still wracked by violence.  
o civil wars continue in Angola; the Congo and Sudan – three of our largest and potentially most wealthy countries; ethnic warfare threatens to break out in several other states;
too many African states are still ruled by despotic governments.  In others, like Zimbabwe, democracy is under threat.
Economically, we are falling further and further behind other parts of the world in the race for prosperity.  
o many African countries continue to burdened by crippling foreign debts;  
o prices for many of our primary exports continue to decline;  
o we still find it difficult to secure fair access to international markets for our exports – and particularly  our agricultural exports;  
o we still account for a pathetically small percentage of global trade and attract only a pittance in foreign investment , compared with other parts of the world.
Our continent continues to afflicted by disease – particularly AIDS – and is subject to devastating droughts and famine.
Only 76% of our children attend primary school; only 50% go on to high school; and a paltry 4% make it to the tertiary level of education.

How, under these circumstances, are we going to be able to compete in a globalising world?  How will we be able to claim the 21st  century for ourselves when so many of the cards seem to be stacked against us?

I believe that if all those involved play their proper roles, then we need not be overawed by these challenges; then we can succeed.

The international community can contribute to our success by ensuring that we are treated fairly in the globalisation process:

they should take genuine action to open their markets to our exports and particularly to our agricultural exports.  It has been calculated that free trade could do more for us than all the foreign aid we have received during the past decades – but then on a basis of equality and not of hand-outs;
the international community can also help us by reducing the enormous foreign debt that many of our countries have accumulated and that now seriously hampers their future growth;
they should also take steps to ensure that our continent receives a fairer share of global investment and that our currencies are not subjected to predatory international speculation.

However – much as the international community can help – at the end of the day it is we Africans who will have to determine whether or not the 21st century will belong to us.  We must develop the confidence, the values and the skills that we will need for this task. We must break away from the victim mentality that has been imposed on us for so long.  We must accept that we are in command of our own destiny – and that we can turn our dreams into reality.

What do our governments need to do?

In the first place, they need to stop the wars and conflicts.  Nothing will be achieved in circumstances of violence and chaos.  We will not attract foreign investment.  There won’t be economic growth. Nothing will improve.  The continuing wars on our continent should be an affront to every one of us.  None of us should rest until we have brought peace to Africa – to the Congo; to Angola; to Sudan; to Sierra Leone – wherever there is any threat of violence.

We in South Africa have shown that it is possible to solve even the most intractable disputes.  Former President Mandela has done magnificent work in helping to establish peace in a country as deeply divided as Burundi.  Nigeria has been working for peace in West Africa – particularly in Sierra Leone.

Secondly, we must promote and consolidate democracy and the rule of law in Africa.  We have made great progress in this regard.   Both South Africa and Nigeria have become beacons of democracy in our respective regions.  

We must strengthen our own democracies and show our neighbours the benefits that democracy and freedom can bring.  
We must speak out unambiguously and fearlessly against tyrants and military dictators and let them know in there is no place for them in the African century.  
We must guard against those who argue that democracy is an alien import; that we can develop our own brand of African democracy without freely competing parties and elections.  That is nonsense – it is the first argument that tyrants and dictators use to justify themselves.  Genuine democracy means that
o ultimate power must be in the hands of the people;
o that they must have right to choose their leaders and representatives in free and secret elections;
o that their basic rights must be protected by the law.  

Freedom and democracy are just as much the birthright of Africans as they are of Europeans, or Asians or Americans.

Thirdly, we must promote the values that are essential to any successful society – integrity; respect for the law; compassion; justice; diligence and healthy patriotism.  These values must be the foundation of our campaign to claim the 21st century for ourselves.  Without them we will regress into a swamp of corruption; crime, selfishness and exploitation.

Finally, if we wish to claim the 21st century for ourselves our governments must adopt the right economic policies.  They must adopt policies that will attract foreign investment and enable us to compete successfully in the globalised economy.  This, in turn, will require frugal and honest government; fiscal discipline; free markets and an environment in which we can liberate the economic creativity of our people to produce wealth without over-regulation and interference.

These are some of things that our governments can do to make this the century of Africa.  But they cannot do it alone.  They need the support of our businessmen; of our religious communities; and of civil society.  Above all, they need the support of all of us – of all the people of Africa.  

Ultimately, it is we, the men and women of Africa, who will determine whether or not the 21st century will belong to us.  All of us must rally to the cause.  We need to join in an ethical and social revolution.  We must build on the values of social caring and commonality that are inherent in traditional African society – what we in South Africa call ubuntu.  As individuals, as families and communities,

we must say ‘no!’ to crime and corruption;
we must take charge of our relationships and defeat AIDS;
we must redouble our efforts to demand the best possible education for our children;
we must ensure that they grow up surrounded by love and security;
we must impart to them the very best values and traditions inherited from the past;
we must claim our rights as citizens and fulfil our responsibilities to our communities;
we must participate in the political life of our countries by voting; by calling our elected officials to account; and by insisting on the highest standards of integrity;
we must work hard in our chosen fields to improve our living standards and those of our communities.

If we can do these things, the 21st century will belong to us.

With this objective in mind the Osigwe Anyiam-Osigwe Foundation and my foundation – the F W de Klerk Foundation have joined hands to establish the African Institute for Democracy and Human Develop in Nigeria.    The central objective of the Institute will be to promote and propagate the values and the approaches that will be essential for the success of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development.  

The Institute will offer workshops, training programmes and projects throughout Nigeria.

it will propagate the values that will be the foundation of our success – values like integrity; accountability; credibility; compassion; justice; courage; generosity, diligence and tolerance;
it will train people in the practical principles of democracy, participative citizenship and healthy patriotism;
it will impart to our people the basic economic principles that underlie the globalised economy including: the role of markets; the social role of governments; the role of capital; the role of trade unions; and the need to work hard, to produce and to compete successfully.

We have released further details regarding the Institute to the media this morning.

We hope that in this manner our foundations will be able to make a modest contribution to achieving the dream that our leaders have articulated – the dream of ensuring that Africa takes its rightful place among the continents of the world at the forefront of human development and progress.   In this process the international community can provide valuable support; our governments can provide clear and inspired leadership; but ultimately it will be the ordinary men and women of Africa who will determine whether this century will belong to us.

The African century will begin with us as individuals.  It must then take root in our families, our communities, our religious organisations and our businesses.  From there it must become established in our parliaments and governments.  And then it must spread to every corner of the continent – so that when the 22nd century finally dawns our children will be able to look back and say:

“ yes, this was the century when we Africans took our rightful place in peace, prosperity and equality with all the other peoples of the world!”