Wars, disintegration of regional blocs top agenda of African ministers at 37th AU summit

Wars, disintegration of regional blocs top agenda of African ministers at 37th AU summit
Wars, disintegration of regional blocs top agenda of African ministers at 37th AU summit

Africa-Press – Kenya. The Executive Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the African Union was held in Addis Ababa from Wednesday (Feb. 14) to Thursday (Feb. 15).

The resurgence of military coups, pre- and post-election violence, humanitarian crises linked to war and the effects of climate change, were highlighted as serious threats to the continent’s development.

AU Commission chair Moussa Faki Mahamat reckoned that “they pose a serious threat to tarnish the signs of the emergence of the Africa of which we are proud.”

Comoros Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and Chair of the Executive Council, also underscored terrorism, violent extremism, and unconstitutional changes of government as a challenge to the democratic processes on the continent.

“We have also spared no effort to find a lasting solution to the various crises that are currently affecting the continent,” Dhoihir Dhoulkamal said.

“In Cairo, Addis Ababa and Djibouti, the war in Sudan has mobilized energies to bring the positions of the warring parties closer together.”

The emerging cracks on regional integration was discussed in the two-day ministerial session.

Faki sounded the alarm on a “new phenomenon of collapse of [our] institutions of regional and continental governance.”

On January 28th, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger jointly announced their “immediate” withdrawal from the Economic Community of West African States.

Officially though, the ECOWAS treaty provides that its member states who wish to quit the bloc shall give its leadership a one-year written notice, at the end of which “such a state shall cease to be a member of the community.”

Faki says the phenomenon is “affecting almost all regional economic communities”.

Blocs in turmoil include the east African community in which Burundi and Rwanda are once again in a standoff.

As the war in eastern DRC continues to displace thousands of Congolese, the Democratic Republic of Congo maintains the M23 rebel group, one of the most active in the region is sponsored by Kigali.

Rwanda has repeatedly denied the accusation.

The Council of ministers coordinates and takes decisions on policies in areas of common interest to Member States.
Education and multilateral cooperation

“Educate and Skill Africa for the 21st Century” is the AU’s theme of the year.

The Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) called for greater impact of Africa. He argued the continent “cannot afford to play small in this 4th industrial revolution.”

“We can build technological capabilities that foster value addition in strategic sectors like agribusiness, manufacturing, green transitions, global health etc. We can generate economies of scale and agglomeration because we have the necessary workforce,” Claver Gatete said.

“When we integrate TVET [Editor’s note: Technical-Vocational Education and Training] within a modernized education system, we ensure capable labour markets for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises to become more competitive,” he added.

On advancing multilateral cooperation, the AU commission chair noted the G20 membership of the continental bloc.

“Our membership at the G20, for which we have made intense advocacy, imposes on us more rationality, method and constant vigilance in the turbulent sphere of international relations of the moment.”

His sentiments were echoed by Taye Atske-Selassie, Ethiopia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs who noted that “the African union participation in the G20 will provide us with a unique platform to contribute to global economic governance and decisions.”

He also pleaded to “enhance [the] working relationship with the BRICS to advance South-South cooperation” and “to further advance, interest of our continent and strings and global governance.”

Ethiopia and Egypt officially joined the bloc this year.

The work by the council of ministers of Foreign Affairs includes preparing the ordinary session of the assembly of the heads of state and government of the African Union.

The 37th AU summit will kick off on Saturday (Feb. 17).

The assembly of heads of state and government will further deliberate on the roadmap for the theme of the year 2024 on Education, preparations for the elections of the Members of the African Union Commission, the institutional and financial reforms of the Union, as well as range of issues including agriculture and health advancements.

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