Gains From The 37th African Union Summit

By Temitope Mustapha

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Recently, African leaders converged on Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for the 37th Ordinary Session of the African Union Assembly of the Heads of State and Government.

The theme of the summit was “Educate an African fit for the 21st Century: Building resilient education systems for increased access to inclusive, lifelong, quality and relevant learning in Africa“.

The two-day meeting came at a time when the continent is threatened by hunger, militarization of state and non-state actors, and high population density with increasing rates of youth unemployment and food insecurity.

The AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government identified the challenges bedeviling the continent to include political and institutional instability, climate change, deficits in economic governance, poverty, and marginalization of women and youths in development and leadership processes in the political and social systems.

The summit also deliberated on ways to improve education and develop skills to meet the continental idea and the job space needs.

President Azali Assoumani, the chairperson of the 37th summit in session highlighted the necessity for improved determination to stimulate continental stability and growth. Assoumani’s concerns were based on the need for the preservation of peace and security on the continent.

The summit reached a consensus that peace in Africa remained the foundation for realizing Vision 2063 to guarantee a united and prosperous Africa.

The AU leaders in session resolved to intensify awareness for strong regional and continental platforms, where national development challenges such as geographical, logistics, and security are taken into account.

They called for the advancement of Africa’s socioeconomic and infrastructure integration that will ensure increased infrastructure connectivity between African countries through roads, airports, rail networks, pipelines, and communication networks.

This is to link communities, increase trade, and enable economic integration in line with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) set targets. This is expected to fast-track the realization of key development ambitions in line with AU Agenda 2063.

The 37th summit acknowledged that education in Africa is in serious crisis and emphasized that progress towards the attainment of Sustainable Development Goal 4 on education (SDG4), needs most be enhanced.

Through its Continental Education Strategy for Africa (CESA), the AU will expand access not just to quality education, but also to education that is relevant to the needs of the continent following the increasing population of the continent.

The AU through CESA seeks to reinvigorate education on the continent via the expansion of tertiary education, research, and innovation to address continental challenges and promote global competitiveness. To achieve these measures, the AU called for comprehensive and effective literacy campaigns across Africa.

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who was attending the AU meeting for the first time as Nigeria’s leader, was appointed as Champion for Human Resources for Health and Community Health Delivery Partnership by the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

The appointment of President Tinubu was on the recommendation of the Committee of Heads of State and Government of Africa in recognition of his ambitious, innovative, and people-focused efforts in impacting the Nigerian health sector positively through significant reforms.  

Addressing the Ministerial Executive Leadership Programme (MELP) under the theme, ‘Impactful leadership in health: a whole government approach’, President Tinubu tasked African leaders to forge effective collaboration with the rest of the world to tackle the continent’s existential health challenges.

The Nigerian leader emphasized the need for Africa to forge partnerships that transcend borders and sectors and leverage collective expertise, knowledge, and resources to improve health matters in Africa.

Following Africa’s struggle with numerous health issues like HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis cholera, and threats of re-emerging infectious diseases that require urgent attention, the new Health Champion Ambassador identified access to essential healthcare services as areas that Heads of Government should work with the private sector to address.

On the critical need to address high maternal and child mortality rates which have continued to ravage lives on the continentPresident Tinubu advocated the establishment of synergy with the rest of the world towards tackling the existing health problems on the continent.

The Nigerian leader emphasized that addressing these challenges requires a multi-faceted approach involving a robust investment in healthcare infrastructure. Also, training and re-training, skilled manpower retention, improving access to essential medicines, and promoting preventive healthcare measures necessary for the desired results in improving the health sector in Africa are fundamental.

If African leaders demonstrate determination, commitment, and political will to the implementation of the decisions reached at the just concluded summit, then the coming years will witness a new era of prosperity in the continent and its people.