AU summit concludes with pledge to work for welfare of Africans
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi wrapped up the African Union (AU) summit on Monday with a pledge to work for the welfare of African people.
Al-Sisi, who took over the AU chairmanship from Rwandan President Paul Kagame, told the continent's leaders in Addis Ababa that over the next year he will energetically work toward achieving the goals set by the summit.
These include putting into force the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), efforts to reform the UN Security Council, rehabilitation of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) and providing employment to the continent's large young population.
The AU revealed on Friday that various conflicts across the African continent have left 20.8 million people displaced.
"The 32nd AU summit theme on refugees and IDPs showed how the displacement of people can create social, security, political and economic challenges in the continent, hence this will be my focus in the next one year," al-Sisi said.
Continental economic integration
The Egyptian president outlined a vision of economic integration in Africa that he said can be a solution to the multifaceted problems facing the continent.
On top of his list of African economic integration schemes is AfCFTA, which is expected to formally start operations during the next AU summit in Niamey, capital of Niger, in July.
"Many African countries are already grouped under regional economic communities (RECs), my chairmanship will focus on how RECs can be a vehicle to achieve wider continental economic integration," the president said.
"The start of operation of AfCFTA will not just ease movement of goods across African borders, but also facilitate the movement of African brainpower across the borders of African countries, adding social importance on top of political and economic benefits."
Climate change and terrorism
Al-Sisi said he will also focus on relatively new challenges the continent is grappling with including climate change and terrorism.
"We need to have plans that match with the scope of challenges terrorism and climate change pose to the continent," he said. "As such, during my period I will focus on mechanisms to fight climate change and ways to achieve AU's silencing the guns by 2020 initiative.
"I will in particular vigorously fight the terrorism threat in the continent, that have left large areas of Africa suffering from political, social, economic and security problems."
Al-Sisi also said the summit had established an agency for medicine, a center for women's and girls' education and other instruments intended to achieve a holistic approach to Africa's numerous challenges.
(Cover: Representatives attend the closing ceremony of the 32nd African Union summit of heads of state and government in Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia, February 11, 2019. /Xinhua Photo)