Statement Attributable to the Spokesperson for the Chairperson of the Commission, on the 18th AU Summit
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, January 25, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The 18th Summit of the African Union (AU) kicked off on Monday, January 23rd 2012, here at AU Headquarters, with the 23rd Ordinary Session of the Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC). The meeting of Ambassadors of AU Member States ended yesterday, 24 January 2012.
The 20th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council, which is made up of African Ministers of Foreign Affairs, will be held tomorrow and Friday the 26th and 27th of January 2012.
Saturday will be a special day in the history of the AU with the inauguration of the new Office Complex and Conference Centre. In anticipation of the event, the Chairperson hereby renews the expression of his appreciation to the People and Government of China for donating this beautiful architectural jewel that now adorns Africa’s Capital, Addis Ababa. The Chairperson also extends his gratitude to the host country, the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, for generously donating the land on which the new AU Headquarters proudly stands.
The Summit will conclude on Sunday and Monday the 29th and 30th of January 2012, with the 18th Ordinary Session of African Heads of State and Government.
As the Chairperson stated in his remarks to the Ambassadors of Member States on Monday:
“This Summit is taking place at a very crucial time in the history of the African Union. On the political front, we are witnessing major changes in the fabric of African political culture. Besides the wind of change blowing across North Africa, which some have dubbed the ‘Arab Spring,’ democratic elections are taking place all across the Continent. Many of these countries are experiencing free and fair elections for the first time, while others are consolidating their democratic credentials.”
The Chairperson salutes and welcomes the new Member State of South Sudan, which is participating at an AU Summit for the first time as an independent country.
The Chairperson further salutes and applauds all Member States that contributed financially during the special Pledging Conference organized in Addis Ababa, in August 2011, to raise funds to help our drought-affected brothers and sisters in the Horn of Africa. It is worth recalling that during the August Conference more than USD350 million was raised.
The Chairperson has described the Pledging Conference as “a major initiative which demonstrated that Africa has come of age; we Africans can assist each other in time of need, without always waiting for others to come to our rescue.”
The Chairperson further notes: “2011 was not an easy year for Africa and the African Union. But over all, the Commission did a good job under very difficult circumstances and in untested waters. As an organisation, the African Union now has to learn the lessons from the events of last year, make the necessary changes in our statutes, and move on with greater confidence.
“On the economic front, despite the global financial crises, Africa recorded sustained economic growth of 5% to 6% on average. This is good news, when we know that in other parts of the world, many economies stagnated or registered negative growth. Clearly, something is moving in Africa and it is a privilege to be part of our Continent’s political and economic renaissance.”
“However,” Chairperson Ping continues, “much work still needs to be done to complete the movement of our Continent from the periphery to the centre of globalization. I believe we can do it and for that to happen, we need to trade more among ourselves. That is why the theme of this Summit is: Boosting Intra-African Trade.
“We need to use communications infrastructure, such as roads, railways and fibre optic broadband, to enhance the integration of the Continent. We need to continue working to break down the remaining artificial boundaries put in place by colonialism to divide and rule us.
“Overall, the Commission has achieved significant progress in several areas and I am going to cite only four examples to illustrate my point:
1. We have revamped the internal administration and modernized the financial management of the Commission;
2. With the help of our Partners – to whom I would like to express my deep appreciation – We have increased the resource base of the Commission;
3. We have also made great progress in enhancing the peace and security architecture of the Continent;
4. We finally launched the Pan-African University, after several years of planning and deliberation.”
The Chairperson further observes: “These and other achievements clearly demonstrate the relevance and effectiveness of our dear Organization. Yes we can! And Yes we will continue striving to develop our Continent and to transform the status and image of Africa in the international arena.
“Going forward, we will continue working to, among other things:
1. Promote the development and integration of the Continent;
2. Consolidate our peace and security efforts;
3. Build a strong institution with good capacity;
4. Promote shared values; and
5. Harness Africa’s resources to improve the lives of our People.”
The Chairperson strongly reaffirms his optimism in the future of the Continent: “I am not only hopeful, but optimistic and confident about the future. Despite some challenges, Africa’s future is bright and getting brighter every day. I look forward to continuing the good work we have done in the last four years to help create a better future for our children and grandchildren. They deserve no less and we should consider it our duty and a privilege to help meet the rising expectations of our Youth.”
African Union Commission (AUC)
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