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African Union will launch single African air transport market       

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- The African Union (AU) is set to launch the first AU Agenda 2063 flagship project, the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM), in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, at the ongoing AU Summit.

The AU has been playing a key coordinating role in the establishment of SAATM and advocacy to AU member states who have not yet committed to the solemn commitment to do so, said AU Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy Amani Abou-Zeid in a statement released by the pan-African bloc on Monday.

The launch of SAATM, expected on Jan. 28, will spur more opportunities to promote trade, cross-border investments in the production and service industries including tourism, resulting in the creation of an additional 300,000 direct and 2 million indirect jobs, said the commissioner, adding that the launch of SAATM will contribute immensely to the integration and socio-economic growth of the continent.

The aviation industry currently supports 8 million jobs in Africa and that SAATM was created with the aim of enhancing connectivity, facilitating trade and tourism, creating employment, and ensuring that the industry plays a more prominent role in the global economy and significantly contributing to the AU’s Agenda 2063, according to Abou-Zeid.

As the first of the AU’s 12 Agenda 2063 flagship projects to be launched, the implementation of SAATM will pave the way for other flagship projects like the African Passport and enabling the Free Movement of People, the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA), said the commissioner.

The AU summit will also see the adoption of the regulatory text of the Yamoussoukro Decision, which is the competition and consumer protection regulations that safeguards the efficient operation of the market, the commissioner added.

An exhibition billed “Flying the AU Agenda 2063 for an integrated, peaceful and prosperous Africa” will be unveiled to mark the launch, as well as the inauguration of a commemorative plaque, according to the AU.

So far, 23 African countries out of 55 have subscribed to the Single African Air Transport Market, whereas 44 African countries have signed the Yamoussoukro Decision, read the statement.

The declaration on the establishment of a Single African Air Transport Market was adopted by the AU Assembly in January 2015. Immediately thereafter, 11 AU member states declared their Solemn Commitment to establishing an SAATM through full implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision of 1999, which provides for full liberalization of market access between African states, free exercise of traffic rights, elimination of restrictions on ownership and full liberalization of frequencies, fares and capacities.

To date, the number of AU member states that have adhered to the Solemn Commitment has reached 23.

The 30th AU Summit kicked off Monday at the headquarters of the AU in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa.

Under the theme “Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation,” the summit started with the 35th Ordinary Session of the Permanent Representatives’ Committee of the AU from Jan. 22 to 23.

The meeting will prepare the agenda of the summit with recommendations for consideration by the 32nd Ordinary Session of the Executive Council, scheduled for Jan. 25-26.

The Executive Council meeting will be followed by the 30th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the AU from Jan. 28 to 29.



30th AU summit kicks off with envoys session

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- Under the framework of the 30th African Union (AU) summit, the 35th ordinary session of the AU Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC) officially opened on Monday at the headquarter of the pan-African bloc in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa.

The meeting has brought together the ambassadors of the 55 AU member states based in Addis Ababa and key AU officials, among others.

Under the main theme of the summit, “Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation,” the PRC session will consider and deliberate on issues related to agriculture, transport, science and technology, information and communication technology as well as on issues related to legal and financial matters, according to Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the AU Commission.

In his opening remarks, Mahamat reiterated that AU member states should play a primary role in the fight against corruption, which the pan-African bloc focuses on the year 2018 and beyond.

“The relevance of the choice of this is obvious because of the scope of the scourge of corruption on the continent with its devastative effects on economic development, corrosion for our social cohesion and destabilizing our political order,” he said.

The AU commission would do its best and implement decisions that would be adopted, said the chairperson, adding “the primary responsibility rests upon the shoulder of the member states.”

Mahamat further called on AU member states to more resolutely fight against illegal and illicit financial flow.

He has also reiterated the importance of the AU reform towards the effectiveness of the union.

“I would like to stress the crucial importance of this reform, its conclusion is a guarantee for an increased effectiveness of our union in order to make it a tool that is likely to carry for our ambitions and translate it into deeds,” he said.

“It is the very condition over financial independence which itself guarantees that we take our destiny in our hand and our decision making sovereignty,” he said, adding “without this independence Africa is nothing.”

The PRC meeting will prepare the agenda of the AU Summit with appropriate recommendations for consideration by the Executive Council, comprising AU foreign ministers, and scheduled to take place from Jan. 25 to 26.

During the opening of the PRC session it was noted that the issue related to U.S. President Donald Trump’s recent remarks describing African nations as “shithole countries” would be considered and a declaration would be issued by the AU Commission on the matter. 


African envoys highlight anti-corruption in Africa

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- African ambassadors to the African Union (AU) on Monday stressed the importance of anti-corruption in Africa on the sidelines of the ongoing AU summit in Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia.

The 30th AU summit kicked off Monday at the headquarters of the pan-African bloc under the theme “Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation.” The biannual summit will last until Jan. 29.

Anti-corruption is one impetus for development, South African Permanent Representative to the AU Ndumiso Ntshinga told Xinhua on the sidelines of the 35th Ordinary Session of the Permanent Representatives’ Committee, which brought together ambassadors of AU member states.

corruption has been identified as one of the biggest problems in Africa, Ntshinga said, as it takes away money that is intended for the poor and for the country’s development.

“We are now working towards sensitizing each other about what we can do to actively fight corruption,” he said.

According to him, Africa has made achievements in anti-corruption, including moving a number of African countries out of the mire of corruption and channelling more sources to the public cause.

Abou bakr Hefny Mahmoud, Egyptian Permanent Representative to the AU, said China has done a lot in anti-corruption and has gained good experience. Anti-corruption could be one of the cooperation between Africa and China, said the envoy.

Kenyan Permanent Representative to the AU Catherine Muigai Mwangi said many African countries have faced the challenge of corruption, which has stood in the way of development and pulled Africa back.

There is need to pay particular attention to the vice, to make all of member states to focus on the issue, and to agree collectively on how to best deal with it, she said.

“We have seen evidence of the best practice in how China is dealing with corruption,” said the envoy, adding that Africa must have been encouraged by it and that the continent is able to borrow some initiatives that China has put in place to deal with corruption.


Backgrounder: Basic facts about African Union

ADDIS ABABA  Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- The 30th African Union (AU) summit will kick off in Ethiopia on Monday, under the theme “Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation.”

The summit will start with the 35th Ordinary Session of the Permanent Representatives’ Committee of the AU from Jan. 22 to 23.

The meeting will prepare the agenda of the summit with recommendations for consideration by the 32nd Ordinary Session of the the Executive Council, scheduled from Jan. 25 to 26.

The Executive Council meeting will be followed by the 30th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the AU from Jan. 28 to 29.

The following is a brief introduction to the AU:

The Organization of African Unity (OAU), predecessor of AU, issued a declaration in 1999 calling for the establishment of an African Union, which was launched in July 2002.

The AU has shifted focus from supporting liberation movements, as envisaged by the OAU since 1963, to spear-heading Africa’s development and integration.

The AU currently has 55 member states. Morocco rejoined the AU in 2017 after 33 years of absence.

Alpha Conde, President of Guinea, was elected in January 2017 as the chairperson of the AU for the year 2017.

Major organs of the AU include the Assembly, the Executive Council, the Pan-African Parliament and the Commission.

The Assembly, which is the supreme organ of the AU, consists of leaders of all member states. It determines the AU’s policies, establishes its priorities, adopts its annual program and monitors the implementation of its policies and decisions.

The first Assembly meeting was held in Durban of South Africa in July 2002.

The Executive Council works in support of the Assembly and is responsible to the Assembly. All member states participate in the Executive Council, usually at foreign minister level.

The council coordinates and takes decisions on policies that affect member states and monitor the implementation of the Assembly’s policies.

The Pan-African Parliament, headquartered in Midrand, South Africa, is intended as a platform for people from all African states to be involved in discussions and decision-making on problems facing the continent.

The Commission is AU’s secretariat, comprising a chairperson, a deputy chairperson and eight commissioners responsible for peace and security, political affairs, infrastructure and energy, social affairs, human resources, science and technology, trade and industry, rural economy and agriculture, and economic affairs.

The Commission reports to the Executive Council.

The chairperson of the Commission is the chief executive officer, legal representative of the AU and the Commission’s accounting officer. The chairperson is elected by the Executive Council and appointed by the Assembly for a four-year term, which is renewable once.

Moussa Faki Mahamat, the former foreign minister of Chad, was elected as the chairperson of the AU Commission in January 2017 and assumed office in March.


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