The Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, officially inaugurated the Graduation Hall of Hawassa University in Ethiopia as the “African Union Hall” on 12 May 2016. The ceremony took place right before she delivered an inspirational public lecture on the theme: “2063 African Continental Vision”. Dr. Dlamini Zuma also awarded prizes to the best female students, female lecturers and mid-level officials.
The Hawassa University President, Professor Yosef Mamo, at the occasion announced the offer of 10 scholarships to students from other African countries and expressed the University’s aspiration to be a truly Pan African University by ensuring an enrolment of a minimum of five per cent African students by 2025.
“On behalf of Africa, I thank very much Hawassa University for offering the ten scholarships to African students. I think this is a very good sign for our integration.” The AU Commission Chairperson expressed her gratitude before delivering her stimulating lecture, during which she challenged the massive population of students, staff, faculty and members of the public gathered, to change their mind-set and take a lead in Africa’s Agenda 2063.
Dr. Dlamini Zuma quoted Harvard Kennedy School of Government Professor Calestous Juma, saying: “Since the majority of Africa’s population are young, 75% of our population can be found in educational institutions of some form or another. If we want to change our future, this is where we should start.” Ending the quote, she expressed her delight in speaking with students and faculty, who not only own the future, but also have the opportunity of shaping it.
In her lecture, the AU Commission Chairperson presented the main goals and expectations of the continental vision as adopted by the Heads of State and Government, and invited the students and faculty to be part of delivering the ambitious 50-year plan. She outlined some of the areas which included: investing in Africa’s precious resources, which are its people; developing agriculture and agro-processing; boosting industrialization to add value and to transform the economy; accelerating Africa’s integration and development; constructing world class infrastructure that would link Africa using energy, transport, telecommunication and more.
The students took the opportunity to further engage the Chairperson in discussions during a “Question and Answer” session, which also included issues of peace and security. In one of the interventions, Student Representative, Ms. Feven Abraham invited her fellow students to make their contribution to realizing Africa’s Agenda 2063.
The students’ interest to get closer to the AU and further their pan-Africanism took another step when the Hawassa University President, Prof. Yosef Mamo, announced the formation of an “African Union Club”, which the AUC Chairperson said is multiplying in other universities throughout the continent.
The Chairperson concluded her lecture at Hawassa University, saying “ I ask you on behalf of Africa – rooted in your rich history, and excited by the present – to lead Africa to realize the vision and aspiration of Agenda 2063”.
After unveiling the inaugural plaque of the African Union Hall, the AU Commission Chairperson donated a flag of the AU to the Hawassa University President.
Hawassa University is one of over 30 universities in Ethiopia, with an estimated student population of 39,140 undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate students. It has one institute and seven colleges, predominantly in the areas of Science, Technology and Mathematics.