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Election of New Chair to Top AU Summit Agenda
July 8, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Jill Craig ,

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, chairperson of the African Union Commission, is to step down after holding the position for the last four years

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, chairperson of the African Union Commission, is to step down after holding the position for the last four years

As heads of state meet amid the rolling hills of Kigali for the African Union summit, which kicks off Sunday, the biggest item on the agenda will be the selection of the next AU Commission chairperson.

The current chair, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma of South Africa, is to step down after holding the position for the last four years.

“I think it’s important to stress that who leads the African Union Commission matters,” said Elissa Jobson, advisor on African Union relations for the International Crisis Group. “And it matters immensely. The chairperson is responsible for shaping the continent’s economic, political and security agendas, and so it’s really key that they have the best candidate in this job.”

So far, there are three candidates. Two are current foreign ministers, one from Botswana and the other from Equatorial Guinea. The third candidate is Uganda’s former vice president and a former U.N. special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa.

But Peter Pham, the director of the Washington-based Africa Center at the Atlantic Council, cautions that Dlamini Zuma’s successor may not come out of this summit, since a two-thirds majority vote is required.

“This time around, with three relatively unknown candidates, it might well be the case that a two-thirds majority is not achieved, and there is additional campaigning and the possibility that other candidates might throw their hats in the ring,” said Pham.

The leadership turnover doesn’t stop there. A new deputy chairperson and eight commissioners of the AU will also be selected, according to Monde Muyangwa, director of the Africa Program at the Wilson Center.

“So you have a huge leadership transition occurring at the African Union and so this is really going to determine which way does the African Union go,” said Muyangwa.

ICC issue simmers

Back in January, an AU ministerial committee was asked to draw up a strategy regarding the International Criminal Court, giving special consideration to whether AU member countries should leave.

Critics of the ICC point out that all of the cases it has investigated or prosecuted stemmed from Africa.

The committee said that in order to prevent an African withdrawal from the court, the ICC should grant immunity from prosecution to sitting heads of state and other senior officials. But that demand is at odds with many human rights activists, who say it would undermine the effectiveness of the court.

Elise Keppler, the associate director of the International Justice Program at Human Rights Watch said, “Now whether or not the conclusions and assessments of that committee are going to be considered at this AU summit is not clear, although it’s important to note that we have seen again and again in the past few years that the issue of the ICC and AU attacks on the ICC regularly comes up very last minute, sometimes on the floor of the debate at the African Union summit. So really, we don’t know for sure now, but anything is possible.”

Pham doesn’t believe the ICC issue will become a priority at this particular summit, because no sitting head of state other than President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan, is under threat, although he says in the long-term, the issue will be important.

“In many respects, the collapse of the ICC case against the president of Kenya, in a way took a bit of the urgency out of the African threat to withdrawal from the ICC,” he said

War crimes court for South Sudan?

South Sudan will likely be discussed. HRW’s Keppler said the AU was tasked in the 2015 peace agreement to establish a hybrid court to prosecute crimes committed during the conflict, because the country is not a part of the ICC.

“And we’ve been looking to the African Union commission to get this process off the ground. I think a great outcome from the summit would be to see that there is encouragement for more progress,” said Keppler.

Last month, South Sudan’s leadership called on the international community to “reconsider” setting up that tribunal in an op-ed published in The New York Times.

Meanwhile, the 54-nation bloc will be issuing its first e-passports, which will go to AU heads of state, permanent representatives of these states and ministers of foreign affairs as part of a pilot program.

The goal of the new passport is to ease restrictions in the movements of people, goods and services across national lines.

“Which is a step at least symbolically in the direction of a closer union, a pan-African identity,” said Pham. “But the reality is that despite those aspirations and those ambitions, it’s not the want of passports that causes Africans not to travel to each other’s countries, and to trade and do business with each other. It’s the lack of transportation infrastructure that makes that. A passport won’t do you any good if you don’t have a road that will get you from one place to another, or you don’t have customs officials and customs clearing houses to expedite the passage of goods.”

Muyangwa expressed a bit more optimism that the e-passports will be more than just symbolic.

“I’ve been encouraged by the discussion on the benefits of this e-passport at the highest levels in Africa so hopefully this is something that you’re going to get more and more countries signing up for and hopefully becoming a reality in the next few years.”

The AU summit opens July 10 and culminates with the heads of state meeting on July 17 and 18.

*VOA

 

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Africa: Uganda Debts Threaten Kazibwe’s AU Job Bid
June 20, 2016 | 0 Comments

Dr Specioza Wandira Kazibwe

Dr Specioza Wandira Kazibwe

Despite securing national and regional backing for the African Union top job, Dr Specioza Wandira Kazibwe’s chances could be scuttled by Uganda’s failure to pay membership fees to continental organisations.

It was reported last week that Kampala had committed Shs 3.5bn to former vice-president Kazibwe’s campaign for the July election; but sources said Uganda’s ‘serial defaulter’ status could rock the boat.

“Our candidate stands very good chances of getting the job but our biggest problem is that we have accumulated unpaid membership fees to several organisations. Our opponents could use that against us,” said a source who declined to be named so as to discuss the matter freely.

Kazibwe launched her campaign for the job of All Commission chairman at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on June 10. She faces Botswana’s foreign affairs minister, Dr Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, and Equatorial Guinea foreign affairs minister Agapito Mba Mokuy. The winner will serve up to 2020.

Buoyed by the Shs 3.5bn cash kitty, Kazibwe last week began a continental charm offensive, with her first stop being the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region in Angola. Kazibwe reportedly met 12 heads of states and their delegations on the side lines of the event, which President Museveni also attended, to front her candidature.

Ironically, given how much the government is investing in her bid, one of the issues that could knock wind out of Kazibwe’s campaign’s sails is money matters.

SHS 38.4BN DEBT

Uganda is indebted to international organisations to the tune of Shs 38.4 billion, according to the most recent financial audit review of the ministry of Foreign Affairs by the Office of the Auditor General. The audit, dated December 15, 2015, shows that Shs 33.1bn is for annual subscriptions while Shs 5.3bn is for other outstanding obligations.

Tasked to explain why the government had not paid the debt, foreign affairs ministry officials told auditors the problem was insufficient budget allocations by the finance ministry. The auditor general warned at the time that Uganda’s failure to meet its international financial obligations could come back to haunt the country in the future.

“The practice may limit the country’s participation in activities organised by international organisations. It may also attract litigation and its associated penalties from other creditors,” he noted in the report.

MINISTRY CONCEDES

In an interview on Friday, the foreign affairs permanent secretary, Ambassador James Mugume, conceded that the government has defaulted on payments to some organisations. But the African Union was not one of them.

“Regarding the AU, we are clear,” he said. “We have paid [membership] up to 2015 and, in the budget that is coming up, we are paying our membership for 2016.”

Mugume named one of the organisations that Uganda owes money as the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), but argued that it did not mean the country was not playing its role on the continent.

“There are [organisations] where we have not been paying like IGAD and others, but you know we have been playing such a big role to stabilise IGAD,” he said. “We had to stabilise South Sudan and do it by ourselves; so, this contribution they are talking about would not even have been enough to stabilise the situation in South Sudan.”

Mugume, a member of Kazibwe’s campaign team, also said that wherever they have so far gone to solicit support for the former vice president, nobody has raised the issue of the fees Uganda has not paid yet.

“Nobody has complained but everybody recognises our singular role in IGAD,” he said. “Whether it is Somalia or South Sudan, we have been playing our role.”

STRETCHED EMBASSY

While the main audit does not indicate exactly which other organisations Uganda owes money, a separate report on the performance of our embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia sheds light on at least one other affected programme.

According to the second audit, dated December 7, 2015, the government failed to allocate Shs 683 million required to meet Uganda’s obligations as a member of the African Union Peace and Security Council. Uganda was voted onto the council in 2013 for a three-year term.

In the report, the auditor general says that due to failure to send that money, Uganda’s embassy risked failing “to meet its obligations of its mission charter, including its participation in the AU Peace and Security Council.”

Uganda’s embassy in Addis Ababa is a multipurpose station charged with the role of representing Uganda in Ethiopia and Djibouti. It is also accredited to the AU, UN-ECA, AfDB, and is a member of the Peace and Security Committee on South Sudan, in addition to its regular role of offering consular services to Ugandans in the Horn of Africa.

Yet, in the words of the Auditor General, the embassy – which is expected to perform a key role to ensure Kazibwe’s election to the AU top job – is always battling “expenditure pressures on the available funds.”

“According to the ambassador, this scope of work involves a lot of activities including travelling, all of which require substantial resources in form of funding and time,” says the Auditor General’s report.

In the 2014/15 financial year, the government released less money than the mission had budgeted for its activities, resulting in a shortage of Shs 171 million. The Auditor General says this led to failure to maintain the existing embassy building (which Uganda has been renting since 1972), the ambassador’s residence which is in a run-down area and even the three official cars attached to the mission.

Uganda also risks losing a plot of 9,086 square metres that the Ethiopian government allocated to the country for the construction of a new embassy. While Uganda’s neighbours on the land, Zimbabwe and Chad, have already developed and occupied their plots, Uganda has not developed its own since it was allocated in 2005.

With the Ethiopian government asking for the full payment of Shs 417 million for the plot before development can go on, Uganda’s failure to pay the money looks likely to cost the embassy the prime property.

“During inspection, I noted that half of the plot had been recently fenced off with iron sheets without the knowledge of the embassy, with a possibility that it had been reallocated to another developer,” says the report.

EXPERIENCED CANDIDATE

Mugume said Uganda would counter any efforts to de-campaign Kazibwe’s candidature using the unpaid bills by highlighting the country’s role as a peacekeeper in Africa.

“We have had our troops in Somalia and even when EU funding has reduced, we have maintained them. We have stabilised South Sudan until they have attained peace. So for anybody to suggest we are not playing our role is wrong,” he said.

The veteran diplomat said they are confident of Kazibwe’s chances of securing the AU job, especially since she received the endorsement of other East African countries at a time when the region is a front runner to take over the AU chair.

“West Africa had their chairperson in [Alpha Oumar] Konaré [from Mali]. Central Africa had [Jean] Ping from Gabon. Southern Africa had [Nkosazana Dlamini] Zuma. So, it is now the turn for East Africa and the Maghreb region [North Africa] but we have the support of the Maghreb so that means we have the momentum,” Mugume said.

*Allafrica

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Africa: Tedros Campaign to Head WHO Launched by African Union in Geneva
May 25, 2016 | 0 Comments
Ethiopian Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu (left), at the Geneva press conference launching his candidacy to head the World Health Organization, with Algerian Health Minister Abdelmalek Boudiaf.and African Union chairperson Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.

Ethiopian Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu (left), at the Geneva press conference launching his candidacy to head the World Health Organization, with Algerian Health Minister Abdelmalek Boudiaf.and African Union chairperson Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.

Geneva — On this sunny Tuesday in the city that hosts the highest number of international organizations in the world, Africa took center stage presenting a united front in support of the candidature of Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to head the World Health Organization (WHO).

The Ethiopian minister of foreign affairs, who previously served as his country’s health minister from 2005 to 2012, was designated at the January meeting of the African Union summit as the continent’s sole candidate to become the next WHO director general.

 At today’s press conference at the Geneva headquarters of WHO, the candidate was flanked by Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, who chairs the African Union Commission, and Algerian Health Minister Abdelmalek Boudiaf.

Foreign Minister Tedros told assembled reporters and observers that a fresh view is needed to efficiently tackle the world health challenges. While noting that Africa has never had the opportunity to lead the UN agency, he emphasized that his candidacy is based on merit as demonstrated by a respected track record both at home and in the international arena.

A leaflet distributed at the press conference included an hearty endorsement by Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. “Dr Tedros’ signature approach takes innovation, collaboration and community ownership as its core principles. The transformative changes he brought to Ethiopia’s health sector are testimonies to his unique leadership style that gives primacy to county ownership and adaptive home-grown solutions,” the Prime Minister is quoted as saying.

 “Through his leadership of global organizations, he has introduced reforms that helped them live up to the challenges of the day. I am proud to nominate Dr. Tedros, a transformational leader and unrelenting champion of global health, for the WHO Director General post.”

Selection of the next WHO director general takes place in May 2017. In the intervening 12 months, Tedros said he will convey his platform to the world, key elements of which include universal access to basic healthcare, emphasis on policies to improve women and girls health, emergency-response readiness and consolidation of the WHO funding structure.

The press conference was held on the margins of this week’s World Health Assembly, the decision-making body for WHO which includes delegations from all the 194-member states.

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African Union says it will send rights observers and military monitors to violence-plagued Burundi after visit by 5 African presidents
February 28, 2016 | 0 Comments

By RODNEY MUHUMUZA*

South African President Jacob Zuma (R) addresses a news conference next to Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza in Burundi's capital Bujumbura, February 26, 2016, after an Africa Union-sponsored dialogue in an attempt to end months of violence. REUTERS/Evrard Ngendakumana

South African President Jacob Zuma (R) addresses a news conference next to Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza in Burundi’s capital Bujumbura, February 26, 2016, after an Africa Union-sponsored dialogue in an attempt to end months of violence. REUTERS/Evrard Ngendakumana

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — The African Union said on Saturday it will deploy rights observers and military monitors to violence-plagued Burundi following a visit to the country by five African leaders.

Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza supports the deployment of 100 military monitors and 100 human rights observers, the AU said in a statement. Nkurunziza had previously opposed the AU’s decision to deploy peacekeepers, saying they would be treated as an invading force.

The leaders of Ethiopia, Gabon, Mauritania, Senegal and South Africa visited Burundi this week to encourage peace talks between Nkurunziza and his opponents.

President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, who was nominated by a regional bloc last year to mediate the Burundi crisis, is expected to convene all-inclusive talks, the AU statement said.

Burundi has been wracked by violence since April 2015, when Nkurunziza announced he would seek a third term, which he eventually won despite violent street protests.

More than 400 people have been killed in Burundi, according to the U.N, and a new rebel group has been formed against Nkurunziza.

The capital, Bujumbura, has descended into “new levels of lawlessness” as Burundian authorities target perceived opponents with increased brutality, Human Right Watch reported this week. Burundi’s security forces have tortured or ill-treated suspected opponents so severely during arrests or in detention that some almost died, the New York-based rights watchdog said, citing beatings using rocks, bricks, gun butts and metal rods.

“Whereas dead bodies on the streets of Bujumbura were a daily occurrence in the second half of 2015, many abuses are now taking place under the radar, with security forces secretly taking people away and refusing to account for them,” it said in a statement Thursday.

*Source AP

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The African Union appoints the High-Level Delegation to Burundi
February 5, 2016 | 0 Comments
New African Union Chair Person Idriss Derby

New African Union Chair Person Idriss Derby

The Chairperson of the African Union (AU), H.E Idriss Deby Itno of the Republic of Chad, recalls the decision taken by the 26th Ordinary Session of the  Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union, held from 30 to 31 January 2016, to dispatch a High-Level delegation to Burundi for consultations with the Burundian Government and other Burundian stakeholders.

The Chairperson of the Union, after consultations, announces the composition of the High- Level delegation as follows, representing the five regions :

– H.E Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania (North Africa region);

– H.E Jacob Zuma of the Republic of South Africa (Southern Africa region)

– H.E Macky Sall of the Republic of Senegal (West Africa region),

– H.E Ali Bongo Ondimba of the Republic of Gabon (Central Africa region),

– H.E Hailemariam Desalegn of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (Eastern Africa Region)

It is to be recalled that the mandate of the High-Level delegation is to consult with the Government, as well as with other Burundian actors, on the inclusive dialogue and the deployment of the African Prevention and Protection Mission in Burundi (MAPROBU), if accepted by the Government of Burundi

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The 28th Ordinary Session of the African Union Executive Council Positions Agenda 2063 as key element of discussion
January 28, 2016 | 0 Comments

19590-28th_ordinary_session_of_the_executive_councilThe African Union (AU) Executive Council has emphasized the importance of upholding human rights especially women’s rights in Africa for an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa under the Agenda 2063 framework.

This came at the opening of the 28th Ordinary Session of the AU Executive Council today 27 January 2016, at the AU Headquarters, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, under the theme: “2016: African Year of Human Rights with a particular focus on the Rights of Women”.

The opening ceremony was attended by a high level gathering that included: H.E. Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma AUC Chairperson, the United Nations Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Mr Carlos Lopez, AU Ministers of Foreign Affairs, AU Commissioners, officials and invited guests.

Addressing the distinguished delegates at the opening ceremony, the Chairperson of the AU Commission, H.E. Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma reiterated the AU vision which is to build an Africa that is driven by its citizens and stressed its relevance to the theme of this year, “African Year of Human Rights with particular focus on the rights of women”. The Chairperson recalled aspiration 6 of Agenda 2063 which clearly states the African Union position of achieving “an Africa whose development is people driven , relying on the potential of the African people especially its women, youth and caring for children”.

Dr. Dlamini Zuma emphasized that Agenda 2063 is not only the program of the AU but also for the various diversities of African people from all walks of life, the poets, singers, dancers, youth, women and girls , private sector, farmers, entrepreneurs the children of Africa and all African citizens, men and women, young and old, urban and rural as well as the diaspora.

Dr Dlamini Zuma recognised efforts by the youth in entrepreneurship, innovation, universities, and civil society; tackling Africa’s problems in innovative ways. She however recalled that the report on the critical skills for Agenda 2063 from the just concluded Mekele retreat highlighted a huge skills gap. The AUC Chair called for discussions with Africa’s private sector on industrialisation, agriculture, infrastructure development, movement of goods, people and services among others.

In relation to this year’s theme on Human Rights with particular focus on the rights of women, Dr. Dlamini Zuma said since the launch of the first African Gender Scorecard, countries have taken steps to do better and that in 2016, the gender score card would focus on indicators related to human rights.

Dr. Dlamini in her closing remarks commended the resilience of the people and governments of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone and the continental and global solidarity that put an end to the Ebola epidemic.

Hon. Simbarashe S.  Mumbengegwi Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Zimbabwe and Chair of the Executive Council in his opening remarks called for domestication of Agenda 2063 and continued commitment towards the fulfilment of the African Vision. He further added that the issue of terrorism which has caused loss of lives and property has negatively affected the socio-economic development of some parts of the continent hence the need to unite against all forms of terrorism.

28th_ordinary_session_of_the_executive_council_2Mr. Mumbengegwi in his conclusion congratulated the AU member states for conducting successful elections in the past year, which he said reflect the collective commitment to democracy and good governance. He also seized the opportunity to inform his colleagues that Zimbabwe’s tenure as Chair of the African Union comes to an end during this 26th AU Summit, and went on to further attribute the successes achieved during the year to the cooperation of the Executive Council, the PRC members, the Commission and other AU institutions (See complete speech of the Zimbabwe Minister of Foreign Affairs on the AU Website: au.int ).

The United Nations Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Mr Carlos Lopez underscored the need for structural transformation to boost Africa’s Economic advancement. Mr. Lopez condemned the genocide in Rwanda.

In his conclusion Mr. Carlos Lopez called on member states to prioritise putting an end to armed conflicts. (See complete speech of Mr. Carlos Lopez on the AU Website: au.int ).

The Executive Council meeting is the second of three statutory meetings to be held under the on-going 26th summit of the African Union, holding from 21 to 31 January 2016. The first meeting was that of the Permanent Representatives Committee which was held from 21 to 23 January. The final meeting of the summit will be that of the Heads of State and Government to take place from 30-31 January.

For two days, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs/External Relations and other ministers or authorities duly designated will convene in closed session to deliberate on the different items on their agenda including the consideration of the report of the Permanent Representatives Committee.

The Executive Council will prepare the agenda of the Heads of State with appropriate recommendations for consideration by the Assembly.

*AU

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Dr. Donald Kaberuka, outgoing President of the African Development Bank, appointed as High Representative for the AU Peace Fund
January 28, 2016 | 0 Comments
AU Chairperson Dr Dlamini Zuma with Donald Kaberuka

AU Chairperson Dr Dlamini Zuma with Donald Kaberuka

The Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union (AU), Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, has appointed Dr. Donald Kaberuka, as the AU High Representative for the Peace Fund. It is to be recalled that, at its meeting held on 26 September 2015, in New York, the Peace and Security Council, meeting at the level of Heads of State and Government, expressed its support to the initiative of the Chairperson of the Commission to appoint a High Representative for the Peace Fund, whose mandate shall include mobilizing additional resources for AU peace and security-related activities, and requested her to expedite this appointment.

The Chairperson of the Commission, through the appointment of Dr. Kaberuka, is sending a strong signal to the international community on the AU’s commitment to work towards finding sustained, predictable and flexible funding mechanisms to support AU-led peace operations, as expressed in the Common African Position on the Report of UN High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations (HIPPO) and subsequent Report of the United nations Secretary General entitled the future of UN Peace Operations: implementation of the recommendations of the High Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations.

Donald Kaberuka, a Rwandan economist and former Minister of Finance, is also the outgoing President of the African Development Bank Group, and Chairman of the Board of Directors. Dr. Kaberuka is currently serving on the Board of Trustees of the World Economic Forum, the Mandela Institute (Minds) and the Mo Ibrahim Foundation. He has also joined the Center for Public Leadership Community as a Hauser Leader-in-Residence. Dr. Kaberuka will bring to the AU his globally appreciated knowledge on Development financing, as well as his well-known dedication to Africa.

 

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The AU condemns the terrorist attacks in Ouagadougou and expresses its full solidarity with and support to the Government and the people of Burkina Faso
January 18, 2016 | 0 Comments
Dr Dlamini Zuma

Dr Dlamini Zuma

The Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union (AU), Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, leant with great dismay about the terrorist attacks yesterday, 15 January 2016, in various locations in Burkina Faso, against a military post in Tin Akof and against a hotel and a restaurant in the capital, Ouagadougou.

The Chairperson of the Commission strongly condemns these despicable and cowardly terrorist attacks that caused many casualties and injuries among the civilian population and the Defence and Security Forces. On behalf of the AU, she presents her heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and wishes speedy recovery to the injured and expresses the full solidarity of the AU with the people and the Government of Burkina Faso.

The Chairperson of the Commission stresses that these attacks take place at a time when the new authorities of Burkina Faso, emanating from the elections of 29 November 2015, which put an end to the Transition, initiated in November 2014, usher in a new era of democracy, justice, reconciliation and sustainable development, with the support of the countries of the region and the international community as a whole.

The Chairperson of the Commission stresses, once again, the imperative need for strengthened and always better coordinated collective African and international efforts to deal with the growing threat of terrorism and extremism in Africa. She reiterates her call to the Member States to enhance their cooperation within the framework of the relevant African and international instruments. In this respect, she reaffirms the vital importance of establishing, quickly, an Intervention Force to be deployed in northern Mali, to fight against the criminal and terrorist groups operating from that region towards other countries of the Sahel, as envisaged in the Conclusions of the meeting, held in Bamako, on 4 September 2015, by the Defence Ministers of the Member countries of the Nouakchott Process on Enhanced Security Cooperation and Operationalisation of the African Peace and Security Architecture in the Sahelo-Saharan Region. On this painful occasion, she reiterates the determination of the AU to continue to support Burkina Faso in its efforts towards reconciliation and reform.

*APO

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AU Commission wins FAO Jacques Diouf Award 2014-2015
December 2, 2015 | 0 Comments

Mr Erastus Mwencha: Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission Mr Erastus Mwencha: Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission[/caption] The new Government Complex Conference Centre of Lusaka, Zambia was full to capacity, with high profile representatives from different worldwide organisation as well as continental organisations dealing with various forms of child abuse including early marriages and related issues. The delegates converged in Lusaka on 26 and 27 November 2015, to discuss ways to eradicate the scourge of child marriage in Africa, within the framework of the First African Girls’ Summit, organized by the African Union Commission (AUC) in collaboration with the Government of the Republic of Zambia. The AUC Chairperson, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, addressed the Summit participants in a recorded video message saying, “We must end child marriage and educate the girl child so that they can attain their full potentials….Girls who end up as brides at a tender age are coerced into having children while they are children themselves.” She stressed that cultural norms that undervalue girls and women are largely to blame. “Child marriage generates norms that have become increasingly difficult to exterminate – norms that undermine the value of our women.” The AUC Chairperson further stressed that child marriage is a critical problem that interrupts the education of girls and undermines their chance to develop and that child marriages take away girls chance to develop and get empowered. “Children’s rights should be respected. The future of our children must be protected because they are our assets for our development.” Dr. Dlamini Zuma underscored. Dr. Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko, Commissioner for Social Affairs at the African Union represented the AUC Chair at this important Summit on ending child marriage in Africa.  He reiterated the importance of the AU Campaign on ending child marriage in accordance with the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. According to Commissioner Kaloko, the AUCampaign to End Child Marriage is aimed at raising awareness and accelerating change across the African continent. He noted that the adoption of the AU Common Position on this issue at the AU Summit last June, demonstrated commitment at the highest level in the continent. “Country-level launches of the AU Campaign are also helping to mobilise stakeholders, governments, civil society, traditional and religious leaders, men and boys, to contribute to national level action. Looking forward, we must focus on supporting countries to develop national-level strategies and policies to end child marriage that are realistic, well-resourced and effectively implemented,” underlined the Commissioner. Speaking while officially opening the First AU African Girl Summit on 26 November 2015 in Lusaka, H.E Edgar Changwa Lungu, President of the Republic of Zambia reiterated that child marriages must come to an end. The Head of State said child marriages pose a greater challenge in Zambia just like other African Union member states. He urged AU Member countries to fight this scourge so as to create an ideal and safe environment for all children in the continent. The President stated that his government is working tirelessly to ensuring that child marriage is completely eradicated. “So far, the prevalence has reduced from 42 percent to 32 percent; let us join hands together and end the scourge,” he stressed.  President Lungu expressed appreciation to the African Union for choosing Zambia as the first country to host African Girls’ Summit on ending child marriage in Africa. The Zambian Minister of Gender, H.E. Prof. Nkandu Luo said there is need for everyone’s participation and commitment to curb child marriages. “Zambia is not spared, it is among other countries that are struggling with issues of child marriages”, the Minister noted. “The Government of Canada is committed to ending child, early and forced marriage because the impacts of this practice are so profound and so far-reaching. We all know the facts -15 million girls are married every year before they turn 18. That’s 15 million childhoods interrupted. 15 million futures forever changed. Child marriage is a violation of girls’ rights. It disrupts their access to education, jeopardizes their health and makes them vulnerable to violence. It also keeps girls from reaching their full potential and from fully contributing to the social and economic growth of their families, communities and countries. “Said the representative of the Canadian Government, Hon. Joyce Murray, Member of Parliament in her opening remarks.  (See complete statement of Hon. Murray on the AU Website: au.int ) The Summit brought together religious and traditional leaders, the youths, African First Ladies amongst other dignitaries. The event featured several short videos, parallel sessions and panel discussions on child marriage. The first panel discussion was animated by Dr. Olawale Maiyegun, AU Director for Social Affairs, Mrs. Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, African Union Goodwill Ambassador on ending Child Marriage, Ms. Omotola Jalade Ekeinde, Famous Nollywood actress, Dr. Tererai Trent, Child marriage survivor and activist, Mrs. Letty Chiwara, UN Women Representative to Ethiopia, the African Union and UNECA, and the representative of “Girls not Brides”. The issues discussed during the parallel sessions included: Changing the attitude on tradition and culture towards harmful traditional practices and the role of the media in the promotion of positive support for preventing child marriage and teen pregnancies, among others. The outcome document of the Summit stressed among others, on the critical need to recognize that everyone has a role to play in ending child marriage – from international organizations to continental, regional  and national organizations through concerted actions and strategies that holistically address the issue, to communities themselves, including religious and traditional leaders, parents, men and boys, and girls themselves. The Summit resolved that a multi-sectoral approach is needed to end child marriage. This interventions at multiple levels simultaneously such as mobilizing families and communities in order to change attitudes and reduce the acceptance of the practice; ensuring that girls have access to quality education and health services, including reproductive health services, as well and economic development opportunities; empowering girls to be able to say no to marriage; and establishing and implementing laws and policies that protect girls and help prevent child marriage. *AU/APO]]>

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AU celebrates one of Africa's longest serving women Diplomats, Amb. Kongit Sinegiorgis of Ethiopia
November 19, 2015 | 0 Comments

H.E. Ambassador Kongit Sinegiorgis H.E. Ambassador Kongit Sinegiorgis[/caption] The African Union (AU) has honoured and celebrated the distinguished career of one of Africa’s longest serving women Diplomats, H.E. Ambassador Kongit Sinegiorgis of Ethiopia. Ambassador Kongit spent 52 years and 10 months in the Foreign Service of Ethiopia, during which she witnessed the historic creation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) on 25 May 1963, and its transformation into the African Union on 9 July 2002. The formal, but entertaining ceremony took place at the Headquarters of the AU on 16 November 2015, and was co-hosted by the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, H.E. Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, and H.E. Mr. Mull Sebujja Katende, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Uganda to the AU and Dean of the East African Region. In her speech to honour the veteran Diplomat, the AU Commission Chairperson described Ambassador Kongit as “one of the finest daughters of our continent. An African Diplomat par excellence, who loves her country and also loves her continent.”  She said that Amb. Kongit has not only fought hard for Ethiopia’s firm positions, but also for Africa’s interests. Speaking on behalf of the East African Group of Ambassadors, H.E. Mull Sebujja Katende, said Amb. Kongit’s passion over the years has never waned, describing her as a distinguished historic figure with a lot to share. This was a sentiment and a sense of admiration that were equally emphasized by all speakers, even describing her as a “walking encyclopaedia of OAU/AU.” “It is a great honour to pay tribute to you,” said the French Ambassador to Ethiopia, Amb. Brigitte Collet, noting the remarkable contribution of Amb. Kongit to Ethiopia and Africa. The tributes were furthermore echoed online by colleagues around the world. On his Twitter account, Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to Russia, Amb. Mike Nicholas Sango, described Amb. Kongit as “a remarkable patriot, diplomat and all-round human being. She sets a high bar for us all to aspire to.” H.E. Amb. Kongit was the former Permanent Representative of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia to the AU and the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). Ethiopia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Tedros Adhanom, and Executive Secretary of the UNECA also paid tribute to the diplomacy legend. Dr. Carlos Lopes announced that Amb. Kongit would be associated to a $46 million project to transform into a museum the Africa House at UNECA, where the OAU was founded. Her Pan-Africanism will inform the museum project expected to be completed in 2018. 16854-au_celebrates_one_of_africas_longest_serving_women_diplomats_amb._kongit_sinegiorgis_of_ethiopia_555On her part, the guest of honour, Amb. Kongit, expressed her emotion-filled gratitude for the tributes paid to her while still alive. “I feel greatly honoured and deeply touched… There is no greater honour than serving one’s country to the fullest,” she remarked. She said that it was time to turn the page and have a good rest with her loving son. The ceremony brought together members of the Diplomatic community in Addis Ababa, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia and the staff of the African Union. H.E. Amb. Kongit Sinegiorgis was born in Harar, Ethiopia, in 1940. She obtained a BA in International Relations from the London University College, and shortly thereafter joined the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where she spent over 52 years and 10 months with different duties and responsibilities. *APO/AU]]>

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Accra hosts Forth Conference for African Economists
November 18, 2015 | 0 Comments

H.E Dr. Anthony Mothae Maruping H.E Dr. Anthony Mothae Maruping[/caption] “Industrial Policy and Economic Performance in Africa” was at the center of discussion of the Fourth Congress of African Economists that kicked off on 16 November 2015 in Accra, Ghana, bringing together economists from the five regions of Africa and the Diaspora,  to exchange views on how to strengthen and encourage research on economic and policy issues related to the structural transformation and development of the African continent within the framework of the AU Agenda 20163. The Congress was opened by H.E Dr. Anthony Mothae Maruping, Commissioner of Economic Affairs of the African Union, and H.E Hon. Mona Quartey, Deputy Minister of Finance of the Republic of Ghana. Commissioner Maruping underlined the pivotal role of industrialization in the quest for transformative growth.  He explained that, not so long ago, almost every speaker on African economies with the exception of a few, jumped on to a “bandwagon” chanting the refrain: “six out of ten fastest growing economies globally are in Africa”. According to the Commissioner, analysts put average growth rates at 4%+ seen as rising towards 5%+. The few that did not jump onto this bandwagon were viewed as pariah. Yet Africa has fifty four economies making six only eleven per cent. In addition, given that Africa is still home for over 30 least developed countries and several low middle income countries, all accompanied by rapidly growing populations, growth rates of between 4 and 5 per cent fell short of what would be required to achieve economic transformation sought. “Sustained growth rate of at least 7 per cent in real terms remains what is required to achieve sufficiently rapid socio-economic development. Coupled with diversification and inclusivity and equitable distribution of income and wealth, some resilience to external shocks would be attained and Africa would be set on the road towards poverty eradication. ….. Many African economies remain commodities based. They thrive during commodities price boom with multinationals engaged in extractive industry repatriating profits. GDP figures then look impressive but very little remains to permeate into the domestic economy.” Unlined Commissioner Maruping. Such economies, he said, experience setbacks when commodities prices fall. Hence the need to transform African economies ensuring diversification and value addition. “African economies are currently going through a rough patch. Demand for raw materials exports has sharply declined, commodities prices have dropped drastically, drought is adversely affecting agricultural production and hydro-electric power generation, thus exacerbating energy deficit. Unemployment rate is rising and incomes are declining. Poverty is rapidly rising. Tax bases are shrinking. Fiscal deficits are widening. Foreign exchange reserves are dwindling. Domestic borrowing has soared. External borrowing has been complicated by credit rating downgrades. Authorities in most cases are resorting to deep expenditure cuts affecting supply of necessities.” Commissioner further noted, adding that, there is definitely a dire need for a new strategy for African economies. “Business as usual is not an option. Agenda 2063 is that strategic framework”, he said. Minister Quartey who was addressing the Congress participants on behalf of H.E John Dramani Mahama, President of Ghana, stressed that the meeting will not only be a unique and memorable experience, but will further contribute to the deepening of the knowledge on how to improve productivity and boost inclusive and sustainable growth in Africa through industrialization. The Minister recalled that, over the last decade, Africa has embarked in the transformative process of changing its destiny. “This process has been solid with sustained growth and a high degree of resilience against global economic turbulence”. Noted the Ghanaian Deputy Minister of Finance. She further pointed out that, the continent is home for some of the world fast growing economies returning more than seven per cent of annual economic growth. Ministers Quartey expressed satisfaction saying that “today, there are encouraging prospects for a strong and prosperous Africa that is free from extreme poverty”. Dr. Rene N’Guettia Kouassi, Director for Economic Affairs of the African Union moderated most of the sessions during the Congress. He set the context by recalling that on September 25th, 2015, the General Assembly (GA) adopted by acclamation Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development together with its 21 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets. The Agenda also needs more than three hundred indicators for its assessment and follow-up.  He said statisticians are busy working on methodologies for quantifying attendant indicators and that Africa had contributed substantially to this outcome through her Common African Position on Post 2015 Development Agenda (CAP on P2015 DA). “Industrialization is a fundamental part of the African strategy towards inclusive growth and economic transformation for the next decade and beyond (AU, 2014). Indeed, at a time when countries of the continent are in search of new sources of economic growth to consolidate the gains of the last decade and move towards inclusive growth and sustainable development, attention to industrialization is more important than ever”. Noted Director Kouassi. The 2015 Congress of African Economists is an opportunity for researchers, policymakers and practitioners of economic policy and development in Africa and in the diaspora to contribute to the maturation of the debate on industrial policy strategy to implement with a view to boost African development and shift labor from lower to higher productivity sectors over the decades to come. The Congress also provided an opportunity for young African Economists in Africa and in the Diaspora to circulate their research findings as well as share information with African policymakers on industrial development of the continent. It has also enhance skill retention and use so as to propose African solutions to African problems.  . Worth recalling that, the First African Economists Congress was held from 2 to 5 March 2009 in Nairobi under the theme: “Towards the creation of the African single currency”. The Second Congress was held in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire from 24 to 26 November 2011 under the theme: ” How to achieve strong and sustainable economic growth in Africa, in order to reduce unemployment and support the dynamics of regional and continental integration” and the Third Congress was held in Dakar, Senegal from 6 to 8 March 2013 under the theme “Industrialization and economic emergence in Africa.” The current Congress featured sessions on developing capacities and skills for Africa’s industrial policy and structural transformation: past, present and future; the role of industrial policy in enhancing Africa’s economic performance; Comparative industrial policies: Lessons from other regions; Africa’s industrial policy in a challenging global context; Industrial policy as a catalyst of Africa’s regional integration; Constrains and opportunities for Africa ’s industrialization; Institutional and regulatory framework for industrial policy in Africa: the role of African states and the private sector; and Navigating contemporary challenges: Some policy options among others. The African Union invites partners to support this important Congress that hold every two years while thanking the ACBF for contributing to the successful organization of the 4th African Economists Congress. *APO]]>

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China contributes 2 USD million to support the establishment of the Africa’s Centre for Disease Control
November 18, 2015 | 0 Comments

H.E Mr. Erastus Mwencha H.E Mr. Erastus Mwencha[/caption] The People’s Republic of China has donated 2 USD million to the African Union Commission to support the establishment of the African Center for Disease Control (ACDC). The grant documents were signed today 13th November 2015 at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa by the Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission, H.E Mr. Erastus Mwencha and the Vice Minister of Commerce, H.E Mr. Qian Keming who was leading a high level Chinese delegation. H.E Mr. Mwencha, on behalf of the AUC Chairperson, H.E Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, expressed his gratitude to the People’s Republic of China for the financial support of the 2 USD million for the inception of the African CDC project and also for the donation of IT equipment to the Commission. Furthermore, the Deputy Chairperson acknowledged the strong and fruitful cooperation between Africa and china highlighting the impressive growing economic relations between China and Africa. “In 2012, the volume of trade was 198.5 USD billion and is estimated to reach 385 USD billion by end of 2015 if the current trends continue” He said. “These relations are mutually beneficial to both parties and are underscored by a sense of mutual respect. While Africa gains by the injection of technical and financial support, China also gains the access to Africa’s vast consumer market and to reserves of natural resources, which are needed to support China’s growing industrial sector.” He continued. The Deputy Chairperson also noted that since the establishment of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in 2000, it has provided a valuable platform for Africa-China dialogue on key issues of development for both parties. He appreciated the ongoing partnership in various sectors including economic cooperation, trade, industrial investments, infrastructure and aviation, with transformational benefits over the last decade has made on bilateral basis with African countries. H.E Mr. Qian Keming, Vice Minister of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China expressed the readiness of his country to strengthen and broaden the areas of cooperation with Africa. The Vice Minister of Commerce highlighted that the Africa’s Agenda 2063 its First ten-year implementation Plan can be compared to China’s thirteenth five-year plan, which aims at boosting China’s long-term social and economic policies. He reiterated the commitment of China to fully supporting the African Union in the implementation process of Agenda 2063. He also said that the upcoming Forum on Africa-China Cooperation (FOCAC) that will take place is South Africa would be a critical step in demonstrating the will of the two partners to testify their excellent cooperation. H.E Mr. Qian Keming also said that H.E Xi Jin, President of the People’s Republic China would announce the Africa-China Cooperation for the next three years. He added that Plan would focus on development areas industrialization, infrastructure, and agriculture modernization. The discussions between the two delegations also included, among others, the regional aviation cooperation between China and Africa, the establishment of the Pan African Television and Radio and  the construction of the High Speed Train network. The 6th FOCAC will take place in December 2015 in Johannesburg, South Africa. In the margins of the Summit, the 5th Africa-China Entrepreneur Summit, the China Manufacturing Expo will be organized APO]]>

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