12 July 2017

Africa: Key Decision From the 29th AU Summit

Addis Ababa recently hosted the 29th African Union Summit where various decision were adopted. The two days long summit took place at a time where the Continent is faced with challenges amid a rising reputation.

Despite its improving and promising image, still issues of peace and security and signs of poor political and democratic governance continue to be sources of concern for the Continent. The situations in South Sudan, Somalia, Libya, the Central African Republic, the tense relation between Djibouti and Eritrea, and the political situation in countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi are some manifestations of this concern. Social and political crisis also remain the major source of concern in the region whilst conflicts and migration are also dragging back the development of the Continent.

Held under the theme "Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investment in Youth", the 29th AU Summit recognized the necessity of economic and social development to ensure a prosperous and sustainable future for Africa whilst the significant sustainability of growth in the continent is assumed to continue to improve with a strong spirit and creative dynamism in the times to come ahead.

Currently, the AU is embarking on the extremely ambitious Agenda 2063 side by side to UN's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals. These agendas are key to addressing various issues facing Africa. The challenges of eradicating poverty and achieving inclusive sustainable growth has spurred Africa to pursue rapid and sustainable development and transformation as the only option to transform the Continent.

In addition to the aspired development agenda, building continent-wide democracy is also crucial. As part of the effort made so far on this regard, there is a democratic progress and political transition in Somalia and Gambia as an outcome of the solidarity displayed by the people and countries of the Continent.

At the 34th ordinary session of the Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC) of African Union (AU), which was held in the run-up to the 29th AU Summit, reforming the Union's overall structure took centre-stage, with creating an equitable and predictable source of financing for AU being the main agenda. And African leaders attending the summit took further steps toward owning a financially independent African Union (AU).

Chairperson of the AU Commission, Dr. Moussa Faki Mahamat on the occasion spoke about the concrete measures taken by Member States in the implementation of the proposal 'Financing of the Union', which directs all African Union member States to implement a 0.2 per cent levy on eligible imports to finance the Union. Some countries have already started implementing the initiative. This initiative is expected to reduce AU's dependency on external funds for its budget.

In addition to the 'Financing of the Union' proposal, various other proposals were adopted at this same summit, which aim at facilitating the realization of 'Agenda 2063' and the 'Africa we want' principles enshrined on the continent's future vision.

The summit discussed and endorsed the implementation of a Master Road map to Silence Guns in Africa by 2020, in a bid to achieve tangible changes in relation to peace and security. As it can be recalled, African Union Heads of State and Government pledged to end all conflicts in Africa by the year 2020 during OAU/AU 50th anniversary. This continental aspiration forms the bedrock of the work of the African Union Peace and Security Council. The 29th summit also discussed the current instability among Djibouti-Eritrea border and considered peacekeeping deployment in the area.

Furthermore, the African Union Commission Department of Trade and Industry is targeting to deliver the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) by December this year as the negotiations between Member States are moving in the right direction. The CFTA negotiation was launched in June 2015 at the AU as a key flagship of Agenda 2063 aiming at creating a single and integrated market for Africa inline with the objective of establishing an African Economic Community. The scope of the negotiations cover the liberalization of trade in good and service, competition as well as investment and intellectual property rights. The initiative is expected to transform Africa into major global investment hub by creating a large and harmonized market.

One other notable outcome from the 29th AU Summit was the decision by the Union to erect memorial statues to Emperor Haileselassie and Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. This is to properly recognize the aforementioned leaders' commitment in forming and reforming the OAU/AU and supporting their fellow Africans during hard times. It is also an appreciation for how these leaders advocated Africa's interests at international arenas and various other Continental forums. This shows how Ethiopia's commitment to the Union is strong and firm regardless of its regime change.

The other decisions passed by the 29th AU Summit to intensify its efforts of reforming the Union and help realize some of the Continent's pending agendas include youth benefit and economic integration; forming youth corps at continental level and facilitating cultural exchange; and establishing protocol to issue African passports to citizens.

Only a collective approach to implement these decisions will lay the foundation for the realization of the ideals and aspirations of the Continent's future Pan-African vision and the goals enshrined on AU 'Agenda 2063'.


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