This past weekend heads of member states of the African Union and representatives (for Presidents who were unavailable to attend this significant summit) gathered in Ethiopia’s capital to discuss various issues encompassing our continent – but more so with the focused aim of achieving Africa’s Agenda 2063.
As compelling and engaging as that sounds (please don’t roll your eyes) there were a few keynote discussions and brow-raising new developments that will change the atmosphere of the AU, and our continent at large. As we have already covered the new appointment of Africa’s oldest and The World’s most educated President, we highlight important discussions that needed immediate attention that have an effect on the progress and growth of our Africa sourced from their site.
- Responding to the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) Outbreak
The assembly agreed to extend their mandate of the African Union Support to Ebola Outbreak in West Africa (ASEOWA) and called upon member states to lift all restrictions imposed on Ebola affected countries. They further agreed to request all international financial institutions to cancel the debt of three affected countries (Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone) Member States approved the recommendation to urgently convene a Global Conference for on the Ebola epidemic, which means that the Commission will liaise with all relevant stakeholders.
- Creating an African Centre for Disease Control and Prevention
The spread of EVD proved tremendous gaps within the health infrastructure not only in the affected countries, but in Africa as a whole. The Commission is speeding up the process of establishing a centre by mid-2015, and agreed that the coordination office will be at the Headquarters of the AU (in Addis Ababa) and authorised Commission will undertake the mobilization of funds from member states, private sector ad development partners.
PEACE AND SECURITY
- Continent Wide Solidarity against Boko Haram
Efforts from Chad (specifically, Lake Chad Basin Commission) and the Republic of Benin through agreeing to deploy national contingents to create a joint military staff headquarters mainly set to conduct military operations against the terrorist group are noted and applauded. Also, Chad’s efforts in assisting Cameroon recently against Boko Haram attacks are appreciated. However, there is a need for all member states to engage in disembodying the growing fears Boko Haram spreads through the region.
- Creating a culture of Peace in Africa
Through Côte d’Ivoire’s existing ‘school of peace’ project, the assembly requested the commission to explore with UNESCO the possibility of creating and nurturing this said school.
- General State of Peace and Security in Africa
Efforts made in The Comoros, Madagascar, Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea-Bissau in terms of peace-building an post-conflict reconstruction are progression through the Peace and Security Council, further welcoming the completion of the Tunisian transition (i.e. presidential elections) and positive developments in Burkina Faso.
These are a few examples of strides taken to reach the full operationalization of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA), however on field level, violent extremism and terrorist attacks undermine socio-economic development efforts which ripple into the negative perception of the continent. Solidarity is still required to weaken terrorist groups such as Al Shabaab, the Lord’s Resistant Army (LRA), Boko Haram, Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in the West Africa (MOJWA), al-Murabitun and the Ansar al-Sharia groups.
DOING BUSINESS IN AFRICA, FOR AFRICA
- With reference to the High level African Trade Committee (HATC) on trade issues, the Assembly reaffirmed its commitment to launch continental free trade area negotiations in June 2015; further mandating the Chairperson of the HATC to collaborate with the AU Commission chairperson to establish a Continental Free Trade Area by 2017.
- On the African Growth and Opportunity Act, the assembly called upon AGOA eligible countries to ‘enhance the advocacy’ to harmonize with the efforts of the African Group of Ambassadors in Washington, Usa.
Among various other topics discussed, Newly Appointed Chairman President Robert Mugabe ascertained that it is the responsibility of the commission and member states to implement all decisions made in the summit – as its the only way Africa can leverage its resources for its people’s benefit. the AU member of states are set to reconvene in South Africa in June, this year.