The Assembly of the African Union (AU) Heads of State and Government has concluded its 36th ordinary session with a call for togetherness in speeding up the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement and in dealing with various challenges facing the continent.
Addressing the closing session on Sunday, Comorian President Azali Assoumani, who took over as rotating AU chairman from Senegalese President Macky Sall, underscored the need to strengthen African unity in dealing with continental and global challenges.
The Feb. 18-19 summit at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, was held under the theme of “The Year of AfCFTA: Acceleration of the African Continental Free Trade Area Implementation.”
The gathering was also marked with calls for rebuilding Africa from the brunt of various health and socioeconomic crises, ensuring continental peace and security, socio-economic development, as well as the representation of Africa in multilateral international institutions.
“We can achieve the objectives that we have set for ourselves for the year 2023, which is the acceleration of the implementation of the AfCFTA,” Assoumani said. “(We) shall leave no stone unturned to ensure that this becomes a reality.”
“We need to ensure peace and security because there cannot be any development without peace,” he said.
AU Commission Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat, on his part, emphasized the need for stronger solidarity to realize continental development aspirations, with particular emphasis given to the success of the continental free trade area accord.
“The theme of the year, the acceleration of the AfCFTA, is a flagship and strategic project for the continent,” he said. “It requires that we put resources together for its implementation, mainly the development of infrastructure, to ensure the free movement of goods and people, trade and to promote commerce.”
Sall, the outgoing AU chairman, highlighted some challenges that Africa has to overcome, such as climate change, unprecedented health crises, terrorism, the persistence of conflicts old or new, and the resurgence of coups.