The 30th African Union Summit discussed the major issues facing Africa
The 30th African Union (AU) Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, provided an opportunity for South Africa's government to interact with heads of state and the AU, with the goal of finding solutions for the major issues facing Africa.The delegation returned with a renewed resolve to actively contribute towards the ideals and landmark initiatives that is behind a plan to drive the future of the continent.
Focus on corruption
Held from 22 – 29 January at the AU Headquarters, this year's summit took place under the theme “Winning the Fight Against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa's Transformation”.
AU Advisory Board on Corruption Chairperson Bégoto Miarom said that 2018 provides a good opportunity to take stock of progress and assess what still needs to be done to fight corruption, 15 years after the establishment of the AU Convention on Preventing and Combatting Corruption.
“Failing to address corruption inhibits sustainable long-term growth and undermines human development. It is the poor who suffer the most from corruption.
The Mbeki Panel Report on Illicit Financial Flows, for example, highlighted the fact that lack of transparency leads to annual losses of US$50 billion for Africa. In light of the grave challenges that Africa faces, there is no better time to fight corruption than now,” said Miarom.
In terms of anti-corruption activities, Miarom said that the AU will deepen its resolve, focus and expertise, while broadening partnerships aimed at fighting corruption.
“As part of the programme of activities, we will seek to involve the broadest range of actors including national anti-corruption agencies, central banks, national audit and investigative agencies, civil society organisations, the youth and women,” he said.
Key discussions at the summit
Also at the heart of discussions during the week was the
Agenda 2063, the AU's vision of:
“An integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the international arena.”
The agenda includes groundbreaking projects which could have an immediate impact on socio-economic development and should be prioritised. These include:
■ Integrated High Speed Train Network.
■ Africa Virtual and E-University.
■ African Commodity Strategy.
■ Annual African Forum.
■ Continental Free Trade Area.
■ African Passport and free movement of people.
■ Grand Inga Dam Project.
■ Pan African E-Network.
■ Silencing the Guns.
■ African Outer Space Strategy.
■ Single Air Transport Network.
■ Continental Financial Institutions.
These are the flagship projects that the AU, in collaboration with national, provincial and local governments and the private sector, is working on during the first 10-year implementation phase of the agenda.
South Africa's role at the summit
South Africa's delegation to the summit was led by former President Jacob Zuma, who said that South Africa is ready to work towards achieving the goals outlined in Agenda 2063.
“It is gratifying that the continent is moving ahead with the implementation of Agenda 2063, and it is vital that we are taking decisions that have a direct impact on the lives of the people of the continent. We are, in a very practical manner, removing barriers to trade, investment and tourism,” said Zuma.
At the summit, AU leaders launched the Single African
Air Transport Market, of which South Africa is a signatory.This agreement will allow free exercise of traffic rights, elimination of restrictions on ownership and full liberalisation of frequencies, fares and capacities.
The summit also agreed on the need to fast track the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area, which will drive faster economic growth, trade and job creation once it is fully operational.
South Africa had the distinction of being elected to serve as one of the vice chairs of the Bureau of the AU, representing the Southern African region. Also including
Libya (North Africa), Republic of Congo (Central Africa) and the Republic of Guinea (West Africa), the Bureau has the crucial task of supporting the AU Chairperson in implementing policies.
South African representatives are also tasked with facilitating cooperation between the AU and the United Nations (UN), a role which the AU acknowledged as vital for the continued wellbeing of Africa. On the margins of the summit, Zuma met with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to continue fostering closer relationships with the international organisation.
In light of the fact that July
2018 would have been the
100th birthday of former
President Nelson Mandela, Zuma successfully requested that the AU adopt the year as a centenary year to celebrate the late great statesman.
“Madiba is a global icon, but he will always be rooted in Africa. We must thank the AU and its member states for keeping Mandela's legacy alive through a myriad of symbols and tributes,” said Zuma, who added that the summit was the perfect platform to launch a number of celebrations that will be taking place throughout the centenary year.
There was more cause for
South African celebrations, when Dr Robert Millar, Director of the Centre for Neuroendocrinology at the University of Pretoria, was awarded the prestigious Kwame Nkrumah Award for Scientific Achievement.
Millar's research has contributed to the development of the primary treatment for prostate cancer, the sole treatment for precocious puberty and treatments for hormone-dependent diseases in women.
Leaders at the 30th African Union Summit discussed issuesaffecting the continent.