The launch of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) in Addis Ababa in January, as well as the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the Protocol to the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community Relating to the Free Movement of Persons, Right of Residence and the Right of Establishment in Kigali in March have been lauded as some of the key achievements of the African Union (AU) made in the period between January and June 2018.
These initiatives are noted as being important in the drive for increased continental integration and promotion of regional trade and economic growth.
The AU also made progress in its drive towards the implementation of the ongoing Institutional Reforms and self-financing of the union, which aim to reposition the AU to deliver better service to African citizenry as well as promote ownership of Africa’s development agenda by ensuring African states finance the activities of the AU.
The Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC) also lauded the efforts made in the adoption of the decision on the African Common Position for Negotiations of a new Agreement of Cooperation with the European Union on the future of AU/EU relations post 2020.
These successes were highlighted by the Chairperson of the PRC, Ambassador Hope Tumukunde Gasura, of Rwanda at the official opening session of the 36th PRC meeting, which is the first in a series of three stakeholder sessions that comprise the statutory meetings of the AU Summit which is being held in Nouakchott, Mauritania, from June 25 to July 2.
The PRC meeting will be followed by the meeting of the Executive Council, which consists of ministers of AU member states and will culminate in the meeting of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government.
The ongoing PRC will consider reports of various sub-committees and reports of the AU Commission and other organs of the AU meeting in preparation for the ministerial meeting.
They also have on their agenda, consideration of the AU budget for 2019, as well as consideration of the draft decisions and declarations of the Executive Council.
While making his opening remarks, Ambassador Kwesi Quartey, the Deputy Chairperson of the AU Commission noted that the PRC plays the important role of acting as the interface between the commission and the member states to ensure a convergence of views between the two.
Amb Quartey emphasised that such coherence will ensure that “together we will fight against corruption”, which is the theme of the AU for 2018.
Mr Mohamed Mahmoud Sweid Ahmed, Secretary-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the host country, Mauritania, welcomed all the delegates to the summit.
After the PRC meeting, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, who form the Executive Council, will meet from the July28 to 29 to prepare for the meeting of Heads of State and Government.
The Heads of State meeting took place between July 1 and 2 and had, among other agenda items, updates on the progress of the AU Institutional Reforms programme championed by President Paul Kagame of Rwanda; report on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)championed by President Mamadou Issoufou of Niger; and two reports from the Chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat on the issues of Western Sahara and the African Common Position on the Post 2020.
A report on the situation of peace and security on the continent and the implementation of the AU master roadmap on practical steps to “Silence the Guns by 2020” will be presented to the assembly. Silencing the Guns is a flagship project of Africa’s Agenda 2063.
The Heads of State and Government will also adopt the budget of the African Union for 2019, following the recommendations of the Executive Council.
Their decisions and declarations will guide the work of the AU as it implements its mandate of driving prosperity, peace and unity in Africa.
The summit is being held under the theme of the year “Winning the Fight Against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation”, which is championed by President Muhammadu Buhari of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. – Prepared by the African Union Commission.