The 29th annual African Union summit drew to a close last Tuesday, July 4, 2017 in Addis Abba -the Union’s sit of operations, after days of intense deliberations. The summit which began with the 34th Ordinary Session of the Permanent Representatives’ Committee ended with the 29th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union.
With the theme “Harnessing Demographic Dividend through investments in the Youth”, major stakeholders from every member state gathered to discuss the implementation of the four critical components aimed at pushing Africa toward sustainable peace and development whilst re-energising the continent towards 2018. After the series of sessions, four resolves stood out as major take-homes:
Massive investment in Africa’s Youths: In line with the theme, investment in Africa’s youths was stressed throughout the sessions with emphasis on implementing the four major strategies in a roadmap earlier published in February 2017. Through employment and entrepreneurship; education and skills development; health and wellbeing; and rights, governance and youth empowerment, the future of Africa would be secured. In order to ensure commitment, all member states undertook to invest more resources in youths.
Silencing the Guns: It is worldwide knowledge that security issues in Africa are the bane behind the negative picture the international community paints about the African continent. Nearly every African region is under the distress of either political instability, wars, or terrorist insurgencies. In order to ensure peace and stability throughout the shores of Africa, leaders and major stakeholders staunchly committed to completely eradicate insecurity by undertaking to speak with one voice on major peace and security issues; giving priority to conflict prevention and anticipation. With regard to the quest for peace, the chairman of the African Union Commission (AUC), Moussa Faki Mahamat, called upon regional blocs and mechanisms to intensify their action in close cooperation with the relevant agencies of the AU.
Imposition of levy on imports to Africa: The AU currently runs on a budget of $782 million, of which only 30% of it comes from member states. A whopping 70% remains continuously sourced from external partners like the European Union, the World Bank and China. In July 2016 however, AU leaders agreed to impose a 0.2 per cent levy on certain imports to cover its operational costs. The charges are aimed at ensuring “predictable, sustainable and equitable financing of the AU” and reducing dependence on foreign aids. This year’s summit therefore created the avenue to agree on the implementation of this laudable move, which is projected to transform the bloc’s economy upward within a short period.
The Launch of the ‘.africa’ domain: This perhaps was the most subtle step undertaken to create a unified picture of Africa to the entire world. As of May 2017, there were about 5 million domain names associated with Africa. Of the 1.4 million generic domains registered in Africa, 1.2 million are .com domains. Initiated since 2000, the ‘.africa’ domain set up was conceived to foster a unique online identity for African business owners, service providers and information seekers on the continent and beyond to connect. “DotAfrica is unique in that it gives Africans that important sense of pride and identity, at the same time motivates them to achieve the very best for their continent and themselves,” ZACentral Registry head, Lucky Masilela (in charge of registering .africa websites) said during the launch. The site, which is now available to organisations, businesses and people (since July 4, 2017) at http://registry.africa/ is envisaged to cost about $18 to acquire.
Not only will an African domain create a unique identity for African businesses, it would also foster unity, drastically transform the image of the continent abroad, and open opportunities for better intra and inter-regional collaborations.
The 29th Annual African Union Summit has once again charged a progressive course for the bloc and consequently, the continent and every country on it. It therefore behooves every African nation to ensure that every resolve and undertaken made is committedly carried out within its shores.