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AU leaders Hold first Virtual summit since covid-19 pandemic

  • African leaders to discuss continent’s COVIDー19 response and conflicts during 34th Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union. 
  • South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa to hand over AU Chiarman rotating position to DRC’s President Felix Tshisekedi. 

By Clarisse Wydorven

The thirty fourth (34th) Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) will hold on February 6 and 7, 2021. 

Unlike previous summits, which have been held physically at the AU’s headquarters in Addis Ababa-Ethiopia, this year’s gathering will be holding virtually due to the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic that has restricted movement and physical contact. 

This year’s theme for the AU Summit is “Arts, Culture and Heritage: Levers for Building the Africa We Want”. 

As per reports, this theme is inspired by the African Union Agenda 2063, which embodies a shared strategic framework and blueprint for inclusive growth and sustainable development. 

Harnessing its cultural endowment would play a great role in achieving a unified Africa. At this summit, a new president would be taking over the rotating position. 

By Saturday February 7, 2021 Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa would be leaving the helm of the African Union after serving the continental bloc for one year. The South African leader leaves the rotating position for DRC’s President Felix Tshisekedi. 

Ramaphosa’s tenure was marked by the outbreak of the Covid-19 and a rise in conflicts, police brutality among others. 

The COVID-19 however exposed the vulnerability of the health sector in Africa. 

These challenges got Ramaphosa overwhelmed as his country, South Africa highly succumbed to the pandemic. Though turbulent, the AU under Ramaphosa pushed through with the launch of the implementation phase of the African continental free Trade Area agreement, AfCFTA a colossal project that would change the economic sphere of Africa if fully exploited by member countries. 

Despite resistance from some nations, the AU equally secured some one billion Covid-19 vaccines for Africa. Thus, the incoming chair has to correlate his predecessor’s goals with his so as to achieve a better Africa.  

Though Tshisekedi will officially dispense the 2021 AU Chair, it has however left doubts in the minds of many Africans who argue that President Tshisekedi already has his hands full with internal problems, thus a clouded atmosphere of how he will effectively handle the AU with its myriad challenges including the Covid-19, which has retarded economic activities and derailed the continent’s economic trajectory. 

There is equally a security crisis rocking the Sahel region and other parts of Africa, a rise in inter tribal and religious conflicts and political wrangling. Overwhelmed with the task ahead, Tshisekedi has already appointed a high-level panel to advise him on how he can properly manage these continental affairs.

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