African Leaders Convene in Addis Ababa for 36th AU Summit

African Heads of State and Government have gathered in Addis Ababa for the 36th ordinary Session of African Union Assembly.

The assembly is expected to deliver on the annual report of the African Union as well as several challenges that the continent is facing amid various global shocks in health, economics as well as peace and security.

The challenges include the worrying progression of terrorism, the return of non-constitutional changes, declining growth, and constantly deteriorating climatic conditions, as per the AU Commission report.

The Union said the leaders “will consider and make far-reaching decisions on various political and socio-economic areas” during the summit set for Feb 18 and 19.

Presidents of Comoros, Guinea-bissau, Tanzania and Burundi were the first to arrive for the Summit be held under the theme, “the Year of AfCFTA: Acceleration of the African Continental Free Trade Area Implementation”.

Many more have come to Addis Ababa since Wednesday afternoon. Presidents confirmed to have arrived so far include President Mahamat Idriss Déby of Chad, President Filipe Nyusi of Mozambique, President William Ruto of Kenya, and President Mohamed Ould Cheikh of Mauritania.

Government officials of the host nation also welcomed President José Maria Pereira of Cabo Verde, President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, President Lesotho of Samuel Matekane, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, President Denis Sassou Nguesso of the Republic of the Congo, and President João Lourenço of Angola.

Vice President Hussein Abdelbagi Akol Agany of South Sudan, Vice President Tiémoko Meyliet Koné of Côte d’ivoire, Deputy Head Abdullah al-Lafi of the Presidential Council of Libya, and Vice President Jessica Rose Epel of Uganda will represent their countries at the summit.

In addition to the African leaders, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is also in Addis Ababa for the summit.

African leaders will advocate for permanent seats for the continent on the UN Security Council and the acceptance of the AU as a member of the G20, according to a draft of the summit’s agenda.

“Such an accession will broaden the scope of our advocacy for the continent and open up real opportunities for Africa to contribute to the solution of the world’s problems,” AUC chair said.

During the two day session, the leaders will also adopt a series of protocols aimed at accelerating full implementation of Africa’s new free trade area, under which trading officially began in 2021.

The assembly is expected to appoint the Director General of Africa CDC and one member of the AU Board of External Auditors.