President James Michel addresses 19th Assembly of the AU-‘Islands crucial to ease Africa’s link with world’


President Michel (second left, front row) at the 19th Assembly of the African Union

Addressing the 19th Assembly of the African Union in Addis Ababa at the weekend, President Michel called for more attention to be given to Africa’s ocean and its islands, adding that problems such as piracy came about because of Africa’s lack of capacity and political will to secure this oceanic space.

“It is time that Africa redefines its relationship with its oceans. Our oceanic space is currently not given enough attention. Piracy profits from the fact that we, as African governments, have not done enough to secure this developmental space,” the President remarked.

The President added that while most efforts for regional and continental integration had brought about tangible infrastructure in terms of roads or bridges, there was not enough done to connect Africa through its oceans, and its islands, the guardians of these maritime highways.

“We will not succeed fully …… if we fail to harness the true potential of our oceans to connect us, to connect us with each other, and to connect us to other continents.  Africa’s islands are critical to facilitate these connections.”

The President said that the potential of Africa’s ocean was boundless, but in the majority this wealth was exploited by external parties: “It is OUR wealth.  We must work together to ensure that we are the ones to mobilise it for the benefit of our children.” 

The President cited the example of the recent ground breaking agreement between Seychelles and Mauritius on a shared extended continental shelf as an illustration of states working together to mobilise the true potential of the ‘blue economy’.

The Seychelles delegation at the assembly also took the opportunity to call for an acceleration of the process to resolve the crisis in Madagascar through full implementation of the SADC Roadmap. 

As chair of the Indian Ocean Commission, President Michel called on all partners to strengthen the support to Madagascar to prepare the way for free and fair elections to mark the conclusion of the crisis.

The President stated that Seychelles was seizing the moment to re-engage with the African Union, to contribute towards a second liberation for Africa - that of ‘true economic liberation’. 

As part of this process, the Seychelles government has announced its decision to open an embassy in Addis Ababa.