The Chairman of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, made a working visit to Algeria from March 10 to 12, 2018. He was accompanied by the Commissioner in charge of Peace and Security Smaïl Chergui, by the commissioner of Human Resources, Science and Technology Sarah Anyang Agbor, by the High Representative of the African Union for Mali and the Sahel, Pierre Buyoya, by the Executive Secretary of the Planning and Coordinating Agency of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), Ibrahim Mayaki and by other officials of the African Union Commission.
During his stay, the President of the Commission met with the Foreign Minister of Algeria, Abdlekader Messahel, with his staff. They had a long working session covering different continental priorities related to peace and security, African integration, migration, education and culture, as well as institutional reform of the United Nations. African Union, in the context of Agenda 2063 as a whole.
The President of the Commission was also received by Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia, with whom he had fruitful exchanges of views on a number of issues of common interest, including integration and economic development, peace and security, and the institutional reform of the African Union.
During these talks, the President of the Commission reiterated the African Union's appreciation to the Algerian authorities, in particular President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, for their constant and strong commitment to the causes of the continent. He emphasized the importance of continuing and strengthening this commitment in the current phase of deepening integration and intensifying peace efforts, to achieve the goal of an Africa free from the scourge of conflict by 2020.
The President of the Commission and his Algerian hosts reiterated the need to do everything possible to ensure the success of the Kigali Extraordinary Summit, scheduled for March 21 2018, devoted to the African Continental Free Trade Area. The President of the Commission indicated that on that occasion, the Commission will submit, for signature by the Member States, the Protocol on Free Movement of Persons and the African Passport adopted by the Conference of the Union in January 2018 in Addis Ababa. With the understanding that it will be important in the process of implementing this instrument to take into account the specific constraints that countries may face.
The President of the Commission urged Algeria to join the Single Market on Air Transport launched at the Summit in January 2018 and to which 24 Member States are already parties. The Single Market will increase air links between African countries and reduce their costs, thereby promoting trade, investment and tourism. Its materialization will strengthen African companies and put them in a better position to face the competition of non-African air operators.
The President welcomed the significant progress made in the implementation of regional infrastructure projects under NEPAD, including the trans-Saharan road linking Algiers to Lagos, Nigeria, with a total length of 4,500 kilometers, of which 225 kilometers in Niger remain to be asphalted (the financing of this section has just been completed); the fiber optic link (4,500 kilometers) between Algeria, Niger, Nigeria and Chad, of which 2,700 kilometers in Algerian territory have been finalized; and the trans-Saharan gas pipeline, approximately 4,200 kilometers long, between Algeria, Niger and Nigeria, which includes ramps to other countries in the sub-region. The President of the Commission expressed the appreciation of the African Union to Algeria for its commitment, including financial, for these projects, which aim to create a corridor of development, by opening up the sub-region and trade promotion.
The President of the Commission and Algerian officials also discussed the revival of the construction of the Maghreb. The President of the Commission emphasized that the integrative project of the African Union is based on the Regional Economic Communities; hence the importance of revitalizing the Arab Maghreb Union. Algeria reiterated its commitment to the Maghreb integration process and its willingness to contribute to its completion.
With regard to peace and security issues, the discussions covered a number of situations. On the Western Sahara, the President of the Commission requested the views of Algeria, as a neighboring country, on the best ways and means for the implementation of the mandate entrusted to it by the Conference of the Union. In this regard, and in consultation with the President of the Union, he must submit a report on the modalities of a contribution by the African Union to the search for a solution, within the framework of the relevant decisions and resolutions of the European Union, the African Union and the United Nations Security Council.
On Mali, the President of the Commission thanked Algeria for its decisive role as leader of the Mediation and Chairman of the Follow-up Committee of the Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation resulting from the Algiers Process. The need for the continued involvement of Algeria and the African Union, in support of the completion of the implementation of the Agreement, was emphasized. At the same time, it is important for the Malian parties to take full ownership of the Agreement and play their most important role in its implementation.
With regards to Libya, the President of the Commission and his Algerian hosts expressed their deep concern, and stressed the need for close coordination of efforts, on the understanding that any process must be fully appropriated by Libyans. The President of the Commission informed his interlocutors of the holding in Addis Ababa, in mid-April 2018, of a ministerial meeting of the High Level Committee of the African Union on Libya.
With regards to the fight against terrorism, the President of the Commission expressed the appreciation of the African Union to Algeria for its remarkable contribution to the fight against this scourge, adding that Africa has much to learn from Algerian experience and highlighting the role of Champion entrusted to President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. He welcomed the organization, in early April, in Algiers, of a joint high-level meeting of the African Union-Algeria on the fight against the financing of terrorism in Africa, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the communiqué of the 455th meeting of the peace and security Council conference held in Nairobi in September 2014.
In the specific context of the Sahel efforts, the discussions highlighted the need to revive the Nouakchott Process on strengthening security cooperation in the Sahelo-Saharan region and that of effective coordination between the various initiatives in the Sahel region (Joint Operational Staff Committee - CEMOC, Joint G5 Sahel Force, Fusion and Liaison Unit - UFL and Multinational Joint Force to Combat the Boko Haram Terrorist Group - FMM). The President of the Commission thanked Algeria for the humble and discreet support it provides to the countries of the region. He informed his hosts of the holding in Nouakchott, at the end of this month, at the initiative of the African Union, of a meeting on the Sahel to promote a better coherence of the various initiatives underway in the region.
The President of the Commission exchanged with his hosts on the conflict in South Sudan and the ways and means of strengthening the support of the African Union to the laudable efforts of the Inter-Governmental Authority for Development (IGAD), including through the reactivation of the ad hoc High Level Committee on South Sudan, of which Algeria is a member.
The issue of institutional reform of the Union was also discussed. Algeria reaffirmed its support for this process. In view of the need for an inclusive approach to ensure the success of this endeavor, the President of the Commission and Algerian officials stressed the importance of the decisions taken at the Addis Ababa Summit of January 2018 on the involvement of the Bureau of the Union Conference and the establishment of a Committee of 15 Ministers of Foreign Affairs to play an advisory role in support of the reform.
The President of the Commission traveled to Tlemcen to visit the Institute of Water and Energy Sciences of the Pan-African University. He was accompanied during this visit by the Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology. Minister Messahel and Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Tahar Hadjar, also took part in the visit. The Institute, which is one of the four operational offices of the Pan-African University, offers master's and PhD programs. For the 2016-2017 academic year, 128 students of different African nationalities were enrolled in master's programs, and 48 had graduated.
The President of the Commission also visited the headquarters of the African Union Police Cooperation Mechanism - AFRIPOL. He was received by the President of the General Assembly of AFRIPOL, General Abdelghani Hamel, Director of the Algerian National Security. Since its establishment, AFRIPOL has undertaken a number of activities including the establishment of the information and communication system between the continent's police services, to facilitate the exchange of information between Member States - 34 of them appointed liaison officers - as well as the implementation of training programs focusing on organized crime and cybercrime.
Similarly, the President of the Commission visited the headquarters of the African Center for the Study and Research on Terrorism - CAERT. He underlined, on this occasion, the importance of CAERT's mandate in the current context marked by a worsening of the scourge of terrorism, as demonstrated by recent attacks in Ouagadougou. CAERT's efforts are focused on assessing the capacity and needs of member states and providing assistance, including in terms of capacity building; exchange of information and intelligence; and research.
Finally, the President of the Commission traveled to the headquarters of the African Energy Commission, created in 2008. He was informed of the activities of this structure, which concern the compilation of data and statistics relating to power, as well as training for capacity building of Member States.
The President of the Commission expressed to the Algerian authorities the gratitude of the African Union for the decisive support they provide to these various institutions of the African Union. He also marked his appreciation of the important support that Germany, through the GiZ, provides to the Tlemcen Institute. The African Union and the competent Algerian authorities will work together to resolve pending legal and administrative issues related to the functioning of these different structures.
The President of the Commission also expressed his thanks to the Algerian authorities for their efforts to set up the Grand Museum of Africa, the creation of which was proposed at the 2nd session of the Conference of Ministers of Culture of the African Union held in Algiers in October 2008, and subsequently endorsed by the Executive Council. The Grand Museum of Africa is one of the flagship projects of the first decade of implementation of the Agenda 2063. A meeting of the Technical Advisory Committee set up by the Executive Council is planned soon in Algiers, to develop a roadmap for the materialization of the project.