The 38th Ordinary Session of the AU Executive Council ends - AFRICAN PARLIAMENTARY NEWS



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Saturday, February 6, 2021

The 38th Ordinary Session of the AU Executive Council ends

At the 33rd Session of the Assembly, held in February 2020, the Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) stressed the importance of Culture, Arts and Heritage in the achievement of the African Union Agenda 2063 objectives, as well as those of its flagship projects. They declared that the African rich and diverse heritage is an essential asset to profile the continent in the global arena, while bringing about sustainable development, integration and peace in Africa.

It is in this context that the 38th Ordinary Session of the African Union (AU) Executive Council officially opened on February 3 virtually, under the AU theme of the Year 2021, “Arts, Culture and Heritage: Levers for Building the Africa We Want”.

H.E. Mr. Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the AU Commission (AUC) in his opening remarks noted that, despite the exceptional situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic that has totally changed the working methods of the AU, this has not diverted the attention of the Union from the continent's priority issues. The AUC Chairperson expressed the hope that the year 2021, despite the concerns related to new variants of COVID-19, will be prosperous and more fruitful in terms of achieving the developmental objectives of the continent and the world in general.

Mr. Moussa Faki Mahamat highlighted the major achievements during his mandate at the helm of the AU Commission (2017-2020), notably in the areas of regional integration, infrastructure, democratic governance, peace and security, institutional reform, health, social affairs, and science and innovation. The Chairperson underlined the challenges faced on the path leading to the “Africa we want”, which he said, is the ultimate objective.

The Chairperson of the AU Commission underlined that the implementation of the strategic priorities of Agenda 2063 has recorded two major achievements, namely the First Continental Report which examines and consolidates the state of implementation of the Agenda in the Member States and in the RECs and the effective transformation of NEPAD into the African Union Development Agency (AUDA) , called to take charge of the coordination and execution of regional and continental projects, among others.

Mr. Mahamat listed a set of achievements related to regional integration such as the operationalization of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) launched on January 1st this year. the launch of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM), the adoption of the Protocol on Free Movement and the African Passport guidelines, the implementation of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Energy Infrastructure Plan and the response to climate change.

On the area of democratic governance, peace and security, the AUC Chairperson stated that, the Commission has anchored its activities notably around the two framework instruments,: the African Governance Architecture (AGA) and the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA). Mr. Mahamat further highlighted specific activities undertaken during his mandate including the facilitation of the peaceful settlement of disputes with a view to silencing the guns, the operationalization of a Peace Fund endowed with almost 200,000,000 million USD, the setting up of a PRC Sub-Committee on Human Rights, Democracy and Governance, the Protocol on Statelessness and on the Right to Nationality, the AU policy framework on transitional justice, and the continental framework on Women, Peace and Security as well as the operationalization of Femwise-Africa.

On the areas of health, social development, the environment, food self-sufficiency, science and innovation, Chairperson Faki said the Commission has focused its efforts on health emergencies and on strengthening education in the fields of science, technology and innovation. He stated the actions focusing on rapid, effective and coordinated responses to Ebola and COVID-19, the adoption of the African Medicines Agency and a series of measures relating to drugs, organized crime, migration, education and higher education, environment, African migrants, people with disabilities, among others.

Regarding the institutional reform, the Chairperson noted that the completion of the reform is a priority for the Commission. He said the budgetary and institutional reforms started first and led to the adoption of a departmental structure within the Commission.

With regard to bringing the AU closer to its citizens, the Chairperson said that the AU Commission focused on improving communication and awareness in involving citizens and the diaspora in the implementation of its policies. The Chairperson urged member states to support the Economic, Social & Cultural Council (ECOSOCC) to strengthen the involvement of civil society in the affairs of the Union in order to achieve a Union centered on African citizens, in accordance with Agenda 2063 and to accelerate the ratification, internalization and implementation of the Maputo Protocol in order to meet the challenge of effectively advancing the rights of African women.

The Chairperson of the AU Commission concluded by reiterating that “Building the future of our Union means harnessing ourselves, in a permanent concerted effort, to meet all these challenges, gradually, methodically, in the continuity of our Founding Fathers dream, who, from the creation of the OAU in 1963, had resolutely inscribes their vision in an irreversible dynamic of change, of perseverance of which we are today the modest heirs. Our loyalty to the aspirations contained in Agenda 2063 will only be better anchored in the service of the Africa we want”.

Addressing her peers, H.E. Dr Naledi Pandor, Chairperson of the Executive Council and Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa, welcomed the Ministers and thanked them for their active participation as usual. “We have entered a new year, a new focus and a new leadership. Our theme for this year, is entitled, “Arts, Culture and Heritage: Levers for Building a Prosperous, Peaceful, Integrated and Resilient Africa in the Context of Multi-sectoral Challenges.” The theme highlights the contribution of Arts, Culture, and heritage as catalysts for our socio-economic development and created an opportunity for us to showcase these attributes”. Articulated the Chair of the Executive Council, before expressing her appreciation to the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, H.E. Mr. Moussa Faki Mahamat and his team, for the support provided to South Africa during its year as Chair of the African Union.

“We are meeting in the context of our global battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has had severe effects on our countries and yet it has also united us in a manner reminiscent of the solidarity that the OAU led against apartheid South Africa. While we are not yet at a level that allows a focus on post COVID recovery, it will be logical to use our precious unity to devise solutions that allow Africa to grow together.”, stated Dr. Naledi Pandor.

The Chair of the Executive Council however indicated that the epidemic crisis has created an unprecedented opportunity to devise innovative responses to new challenges and problems. To that effect, she urged the Executive Council to initiate an AU led reflection on future actions and how best to co-ordinate efforts in a bid to mitigate the pandemic, “Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in the continent in March 2020, African countries have made huge strides in containing the spread of the virus. The achievements recorded so far can be attributed to the proactive initiatives undertaken by all of us as a collective under the decisive leadership of the AU Bureau with the support of the Chairs of the Regional Economic Communities (RECs), the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and the Chair of the AU, H.E. President Cyril Ramaphosa.”, emphasized Minister Naledi Pandor.

The Minister further underscored the ultimate need for acquiring vaccines as an important public health measure to prevent COVID-19. “For the past year, efforts have been underway to find vaccines that are both safe, affordable and effective. We finally have achieved the goal, with a number of vaccines having undergone clinical trials and passed stringent safety tests. The production of the vaccine have begun in earnest”, reiterated Dr. Naledi Pandor.

Minister Pandor concluded by reaffirming that the vision of Agenda 2063 is realisable if we act with energy and determination. “We must become self-sufficient. .. Even more critical in the maintenance of peace and security on the continent is the Peace Fund... We continue to call on our fellow member states to contribute to the fund so as to enable the Continent play a leading role in entrenching peace and security”. She said.
Worth noting that, the Executive Council meeting will consider in close session a number of agenda items including the Report of the Permanent Representatives’ Committee (PRC), the Annual Report on the Activities of the Union and its organs, the Report on the African Union Response on COVID-19 Pandemic in Africa, the Progress Report on the operationalization of the African Inclusive Market Excellence Centre (AIMEC), and Reports of Sub-Committees of the Executive Council and ad hoc committees.

The virtual meeting was attended by Foreign Ministers of AU member states, the leadership and officials of the AU Commission as well as some representatives from the AU organs,.
The outcomes of the Executive Council meeting will be presented to the 34th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government scheduled to take place from 6-7 February 2021 for consideration and adoption.

Source: Directorate of Information and Communication, African Union Commission

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