Addis Ababa, Jan 30 (IANS) The 22nd African Union (AU) summit kicked off Thursday at the AU headquarters in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa.
At the opening of the summit, the AU heads of state launched the 2014 Year of Agriculture and Food Security marking the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP), Xinhua reported.
Preceded by the sessions of the Permanent Representatives Committee Jan 21-23 and the Executive Council Jan 27-29, the summit is being held under the theme of ‘Transforming Africa’s Agriculture: Harnessing Opportunities for Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development’.
The summit was also preceded by the meeting of the AU Peace and Security Council at the level of heads of state Jan 29, when the leaders deliberated on the situation in South Sudan, Central African Republic and Egypt.
In her opening remarks at the summit, AU Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma noted Africa’s economic integration, coupled with infrastructure development, to boost intra-Africa trade from less than 12 percent in 2013 to 50 percent by 2045.
The integration, she said, should be consolidated with the growth of commodity exchanges and continental commercial giants.
Africa needed to boost food production and improve its manufacturing benefiting from its natural resources and agricultural products as drivers to industrialisation, she told the summit.
The chairperson noted that Africa declared the determination during the AU’s 50th anniversary to silence the guns of conflict by 2020.
She underscored the need to tackle the root causes of conflicts, including diversity, inclusion and management of resources on the continent.
Dlamini-Zuma also underlined the need to invest in empowerment of young people and women to bring peace to Africa.
She committed efforts to Agenda 2063 developed to galvanise and unite in action all Africans and the diaspora around the common vision of a peaceful, integrated and prosperous Africa.
Stating that positive gains have been made in the area of peace and security, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who is also the outgoing chairperson of AU, expressed concern at the emergence of new conflicts on the continent, for which he sought urgent solutions.
Hailemariam stressed the need to find urgent solutions to the crises in South Sudan and Central African Republic.
“Failure to do so will have serious implications for peace and security in the region and indeed the whole continent,” he said.
“Therefore, it is incumbent on us to help these two fragile African states in restoring peace and stability and addressing their internal challenges.”
UN Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson, newly elected President of Madagascar Hery M. Rajaonarimampianina and Haiti Prime Minister Laurent Salvador Lamothe also addressed the opening session.
The session also featured the election of a one-year rotating chairperson of the AU, President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz of Mauritania, and the presentation ceremony of the Kwame Nkrumah Scientific Awards for 2014.