, JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Jun 16 – Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed has said the African Union Summit which kicked off Saturday in South Africa marks a milestone in the empowerment of women in the continent.
The Cabinet Secretary sad the overarching objective of the “2015 Year of Women Empowerment and Development towards Africa’s Agenda 2063” is to define strategic actions to fully support women capacity building and access to resources in order to ensure their full participation in national development processes.
“The theme of the Summit is expected to renew and reinforce political commitment by African leaders, and all stakeholders, for promoting and sustaining empowerment of women,” said the CS.
“The Heads of State and Government are being called upon to fully implement the five AU Gender Architecture policies and to increase engagements and actions on women empowerment,” said the Cabinet Secretary.
Mohamed further said the Summit also considered a report on the first ten-year Implementation Plan of the African Union Agenda 2063 – Africa’s 50 year development blueprint – and its financing mechanism.
Key to discussions on Africa Agenda 2063 were deliberations on alternative sources of funding AU programs and activities.
“Currently the Union’s programmes budget is predominantly funded by external partners such as the EU, USAID, UNDP and the French Development Agency (AFD),” noted Mohamed.
“It is imperative for Member States to take control and ownership of the AU, its projects and programmes through own funding of the budget of the Union rather than continued dependence on partners,” added the CS.
The Cabinet Secretary noted that significant efforts have been made towards mapping the untapped alternative sources of financing from within Africa adding that the continent can raise up to about 70 percent of the development financing needs.
Also on the agenda of the Summit was state of peace and security in Africa with particular focus on terrorism, extremism and Africa’s response.
“Pervasive poverty, porous borders, a thriving illicit arms trade and a lack of State institutions in Libya have compounded the security challenge in Africa. The result is that extremist groups are flourishing, particularly in the Maghreb region, in Sahel region and in the Lake Chad Basin areas,” said the Cabinet Secretary.
Mohamed stressed the need for the African Union, and the international community as a whole, to combine efforts in fighting terrorism and militant extremism through measures that address the very conditions that feed violent extremism on the continent.
Also discussed during the Summit was the integration of the continent with particular focus on free movement of people and goods. It is expected that the Summit will launch negotiations for the establishment of the Continental Free Trade Area.
The Summit was opened by President Robert Mugabe President, current AU Chair, who urged African leaders to embrace Agenda 2063 as the best strategy towards effecting the transformation of the continent.