By Fatma Esma Arslan
Africa must determine its own future without reliance on foreign help, the chairman of the African Union has said.
Alpha Conde, the president of Guinea, was elected chairman of the union in January.
“Africa must stop counting on the West and take control of its own destiny,” he told Anadolu Agency in an interview.
He added: “We must stop… relying on aid. Africa should also take steps towards a free trade agreement. Africa has started to develop but the road is still long.”
On his own country, Conde said: “Guinea is independent politically but not economically. Today we are fighting for economic independence… Our industry is import-dependent. We have to produce what we consume.”
The president pointed out that Guinea gained independence relatively early, in 1958, freeing itself from French colonial rule.
However, he decried his country’s lack of economic independence.
“In fact, we should look at ourselves from a regional perspective and not as an isolated state,” he said. “The Economic Community of West African States [ECOWAS] has 300 million inhabitants. We must strengthen Africa as a whole, not Guinea alone.”
The president said Guinea and Turkey had been working to improve relations following President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit in March 2016.
During the visit, Turkey and Guinea signed agreements on tourism, aviation, medicine, military, electricity, hydrocarbons, mining and the environment.
“Our characters are similar, that’s why we have become friends,” Conde said, pointing to the many opportunities for cooperation and increased Turkish investment.
Conde said Guinea wanted to enhance the country’s international prestige through slogans such as “Guinea is back” and to develop it internally.
The energy, agriculture and infrastructure sectors were priorities for the west African state, he added.
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