Jul 16, 2012, 1:54 PM
The 19th African Union summit officially opened yesterday, Sunday, at the new AU conference center in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, under the theme: “Boosting Intra-African Trade”.
For two days, 15 and 16 July, the heads of state and government from the 54 AU member states will consider: the recommendations of the executive council on the report of the commission on the implementation of previous decisions of the council and the AU Assembly.
Our leaders will also consider the report of the AU’s Peace and Security Council on its activities and the state of peace and security in Africa, including the activities of the Panel of the Wise; and the report on NEPAD by Meles Zenawi, Ethiopian prime minister and chairperson of the NEPAD heads of state and government orientation committee.
The report on Africa’s preparation for the climate change negotiations, by Meles Zenawi, who is also the coordinator of the committee of African heads of state and government on climate change will also be considered.
The presidents and heads of delegations will also exchange views on the report on Sustainable Development (Rio +20) by Denis Sassou Nguesso, president of Congo and Africa’s coordinator on the United Nations conference.
They will discuss the report on the UN Reforms by Ernest Bai Koroma, president of Sierra Leone and chairperson of the Committee of Ten on the UN Reforms.
The Assembly will further consider the report of the High Level Committee of Heads of State and Government/Chairs of the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) on Boosting Intra-African Trade, among others.
One of the high moments during the AU summit will be the election of the chairperson and deputy chairperson of the African Union Commission, as well as the appointment of the eight AU commissioners and the three judges of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
The topic of discussion is quite relevant, and timely. Despite the international economic crisis, analysts have hailed the rapid economic growth registered in Africa.
Nonetheless, if the theme of the summit is to be achieved, there is a need to reduce barriers to trade between and among African nations, and to ensure a free flow of goods and services.
It is a fact that African countries do not trade enough among themselves.
African countries must, therefore, boost intra-regional trade, so as to help accelerate economic growth and development.
We believe that when fully implemented, intra-African exchange would help reduce poverty in Africa.
We, therefore, hope that at the end of their two-day summit meeting in Addis Ababa, African leaders after brainstorming on all the challenges hindering trade, will come away with meaningful ways to boost intra-African trade.
These challenges include the conflicts and wars in the continent.
Indeed, there is no doubt that the peaceful settlement of disputes would also ensure rapid growth and sustainable development in Africa.
“Trade knows neither friends or kindred”