The 33rd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union kicked off at the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The two days meeting is being held under the 2020 theme of the year, “Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development. “
The newly elected chairperson AU, President Cyril Ramaphosa of the Republic of South Africa, outlined the priorities that will need to be the focus of the Union to bolster the progress being made in driving Africa’s growth trajectory within the framework of Agenda 2063 including; Deepening the unity of the continent, Advancing inclusive economic growth and sustainable development, Ensuring political and economic unity, good governance and peace and Conflict resolution.
Ramaphosa noted that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) AfCFTA will be a major driver for reigniting industrialization and paving the way for Africa’s integration into the global economy as a player of considerable weight and scale.
“The potential of the AfCFTA to boost intra-African trade should not become a conduit for products with minimal African content under the guise of continental integration” he said
He emphasized the need to move beyond the clichés and general statements and work towards achieving practical solutions such as the implementation of awarding 25 per cent of public procurement to women owned businesses in line with Agenda 2063.
Ramaphosa noted that along with Africa taking charge of its peace and security agenda and finding African solutions to African problems, there was an urgent need to “deal with the action of countries outside our continent that are fighting proxy wars and fuelling ongoing conflicts on our continent.”
The UN Secretary General Mr Antonio Guterres spoke on the importance of including women and youth in Africa’s peace initiatives. He said Peace, social cohesion and sustainable development require women’s contribution and leadership. Women clearly have an essential role to play in conflict prevention and political transitions.
He proceeded to say it is also necessary to engage and empower Africa’s youth, whom he said have become advocates for peace through dialogue and addressing the root causes of conflict. In this respect he commended the 1 million by 2021 initiative of the African Union which aims to reach millions of African youth with opportunities.