The 29th African Union (AU) summit, which opened in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa on Tuesday with the 34th session of the AU Permanent Representative Committee (PRC), has top agenda including AU reform and peace and security among others.

The 29th AU summit is held from June 27 to July 4, under the theme “Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investments in the Youth,” at the headquarters of the pan-African bloc in Addis Ababa.

During their three-day meeting from June 27 to 29, the ambassadors of the 55 AU member states are expected to prepare the agenda of the AU Summit with appropriate recommendations for consideration by the AU Executive Council, which is the session of the foreign ministers, scheduled to take place from June 30 to July 1.

In his opening remarks at the PRC session, Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the AU Commission, noted that reform of the African Union (AU) is among the main issues to be considered during the PRC meeting.

President Paul Kagame of Rwanda has been leading the AU reform process, and in May Rwanda also hosted a consultative meeting on the AU Reforms attended by African foreign ministers and ambassadors accredited to the AU.

Among the AU reforms is a decision to reduce donor dependence in funding the organization’s budget, as most of the Union’s budget is currently sourced from donation.

The AU has adopted a proposal to fund 100 percent of its administrative budget, 75 percent of program budgets, and 25 percent of the peacekeeping-related activities.

A decision has also been made that the funds would be resourced from a 0.2-percent levy imposed on eligible imports entering the continent.

Stating that the meeting is being held at a time when political crises and conflicts remain a major concern for the continent, Faki expressed concern about the situations in South Sudan and other parts of the continent.

“The situation in Libya, Mali, the Central African Republic, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Sudanese region of Darfur and Somalia will also attract the attention of the Summit,” noted the chairperson.

He also underlined the need to redouble Africa’s efforts to end the scourges of terrorism and violent extremism that afflict so many parts of the continent, notably in the Sahelo-Saharan strip, the Lake Chad basin and the Horn of Africa.

Hailing the action of the multinational joint force against Boko Haram, Faki said he welcomes the decision of the G5 countries (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger) to establish a joint force and calls on the international community to give concrete support to the initiative.

Migration, especially towards Europe and the Middle East, and the tragedies that accompany this move, is another top issue that calls for attention, according to the chairperson.

“This reflects our collective failure to respond to the aspirations of our youth. It shows that there is still long way to go in order to harness the demographic dividend as the theme of the summit summons us to do,” noted the chairperson.

From this point of view, it is more than urgent to accelerate the establishment of the Free Trade Area, which is a powerful lever for the development of the continent,” he said. “Consultations are under way for the prompt establishment of the panel of eminent persons responsible for carrying out the advocacy work required for this purpose.” Enditem

Source: Xinhua/