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Secretary Kerry's Remarks at the African Union's Fiftieth Anniversary Summit, May 2013

Speaker: John F. Kerry
Published May 25, 2013

Secretary of State John Kerry gave these Remarks at the African Union's Fiftieth Anniversary Summit on May 25, 2013, in Addis Ababa.

Excerpts from the remarks:

"Yes, there are struggles. Of course there are. But today, war and strife in Africa are less common than freedom and development. Today, the rule of strongmen is less common than multiparty democracies. Credible elections, peaceful transfers of power, like those that we recently saw in Liberia and Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Zambia, where competing candidates go to the courts instead of the streets, as in Kenya and in Ghana. These are the true marks of democracy and change. I will personally say that I will never forget. I worked very hard on the CPA. I've worked very hard on Sudan and (inaudible) South Sudan.

And I'll never forget the day that I stood in Juba as I went around to polling places and I listened to people excited at the opportunity to vote. And one woman was talking about how hard it was, and I turned to her and I said, "Please don't get so impatient that you leave." She looked at me and she sort of laughed as she said, "Senator, I've been waiting 59 years for this moment. I'm not leaving." The excitement of people to be able to finally vote, that was a remarkable day July 9th when finally a new nation came about. And we dare not forget that it came about not through force but through peaceful and careful negotiation matched by great patience, a lesson that referenda (inaudible) teaching and learning and passing on in country after country.

May I say one other quick thing that I want to share with you? One of the most breathtaking accomplishments on earth is the fact that today more people in Africa have access to drugs that combat AIDS and HIV than are people contracting those diseases. This is a transition of enormous proportion that everyone ought to be proud of. This year marks the 10th anniversary of PEPFAR, and it's one of the programs that I am proudest of to have led through the United States Senate. I want to thank Ambassador Eric Goosby for his extraordinary work and stewardship of this program. Today in Ethiopia, we can finish what we started and we can witness an AIDS-free generation in the entire world (inaudible).

Finally, the great challenge that we all understand (inaudible). As we celebrate this 50th anniversary, six of the world's ten fastest-growing countries are right here, and companies all over the world are taking off and coming here, and African companies are (inaudible) kind of growth we saw in Asia. But I will say this to you: Africa is home to the youngest population on earth, a population that is increasingly educated (inaudible) one-to-one to the rest of the world. And while nearly all of the leaders here are older than the African Union, the vast majority of Africans are younger than the African Union. Sixty percent of Africans are under the age of 30. In the next ten years, there will be more than 100 million more school-aged children in Africa. By the year 2050, more than a quarter of the world's workforce will be African. And in the next three generations, more than 40 percent of the entire world's youth will live in Africa. This is not just a challenge. This is an extraordinary opportunity, not just for Africans but for the world. But we will have to be vigilant (inaudible) education, jobs, and opportunity (inaudible)."

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