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Africa Update#2

 Week of 8-12 February, 2010; Vol 2.2

African Union

The 14th Summit of the African Union ended in Addis Ababa with a new Chairperson of the Union —Malawian President Mutharika. Mutharika takes over Libyan Al-Qaddafi.

The leaders ended the assembly with a series of decisions on issues ranging from peace and stability to food security, finance and infrastructural development—including the establishment of a Central Bank of Africa in 2018.

Central to some of the new changes include the campaign against unconstitutional change of government; the implementation of a single currency by 2018; the connection of the entire continent with road networks. This will all be coupled with a $US250 million budget for AU operations this year. The AU has declared 2010 as the Year of Peace and Security.

On peace and security, AU leaders expressed satisfaction with constructive political developments in Guinea, Mauritania and Guinea-Bissau, where, according to the newly appointed Chairman, “concrete steps have been taken to restore democracy and hope for the ordinary citizen.”

These encouraging developments notwithstanding, the AU Chairman said that Africa continues to be riddled with conflicts in Madagascar, Somalia and Darfur. This would, however, not stop him from pursuing his mandate on food security, and continental road networks – all key priorities of the AU in the coming five years.

Under the new Chairman who has overseen Malawi achieve boom in food production in the last few years, it is expected that Mutharika would help replicate his country’s success across Africa as well as step up efforts to develop the continent’s transport and communication infrastructure.

His mantra is “transforming the AU from an institution of ‘resolutions and declaration” to a body that executes actions”.

Still in the AU, these major developments took place against the launch of the new flag of the African Union, which was hoisted at the UN Economic Commission headquarters for Africa in the presence of AU Heads of State and Government participating in the AU summit.

The new green coloured flag is decorated with 53 golden stars that symbolize the African States, making a circle. At the middle of the circle is a green map of Africa and an effigy with solar rays coloured white.

ECOWAS

Since January, Togo has played host as hub to the newly-established regional airline ASKY, which first flights were on 15 January from Lome to Abidjan and Banjul.

Ethiopian Airlines (ET) has a 25 per cent stake in ASKY, which has a diverse membership and ownership spread among individuals and institutions in 11 African countries. These comprise the private multinational ECOBANK; as well as the major development banks in the sub-region including ECOWAS and the ECOWAS Bank of Investment and Development (EBID).

Ethiopian Airlines has a contract to manage and operate the new airline, which is reputed to feed passengers in ET’s network of 74 destinations, including 35 in Africa.

CENSAD

With a size of 28 members and the largest regional grouping in the eight UNECA-mandated regional economic communities (RECs), the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD) has celebrated its 12th anniversary.

CENSAD has an estimated population of 352 million people and an area half the size of Africa.

The brainchild of Libyan leader Al-Qaddafi, who is also the permanent mediator for peace in the group, the grouping has aimed to build a comprehensive economic union based on a strategy of integrating national development plans of member countries and by encouraging investment in the agricultural, industrial, social, cultural and energy fields.

It also seeks to promote foreign trade through a policy promoting investment, growth and the development of land, air and sea transport. In addition Qaddafi has taken great interest in facilitating peace and security in the region by holding a series of reconciliation meetings between warring countries like Chad, Sudan, the Central African Republic, Mali and Niger.

COMESA

In a move meant to advance the Africa Economic Community (AEC), the 19-member COMESA has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Economic Community for West African States (ECOWAS) to enhance private sector development in the two regions.

According to a statement released by COMESA, the MoU would provide the opportunity for member states to cooperate in various areas of mutual interest, including matters of inter-regional trade development and improving the livelihood of the region’s citizens.

At the heart of the MoU will be visibility and participation for and by women in business, as well as member states obtaining the opportunity to share lessons and experiences which will enhance and facilitate international trade and investment negotiations.

EAC

On account of the fact that there will be preparations for opening the borders for free movement of goods and services among East African countries, security matters within the region are likely to top the agenda for the EAC in 2010.

The Common Market protocol, which provides for free movement of goods and services among EAC countries, was signed in November 2009. EAC Heads of State are expected to meet in May this year to ensure its ratification, with a view to its implementation in July.

SADC

Deputy Executive Secretary of SADC Angolan Joao Caholo has launched a call to promote and attract investment in the southern region. He has further called on the private sector community in the construction of basic infrastructure (transport corridors; water supply projects; energy and electricity, etc) to invest in the SADC region.

He maintains that the 14-member grouping has the potential to be a “surplus” in terms of production and supply of electricity and other sectors. The executive further added that SADC has planned the creation, in the near future, of an autonomous fund to boost its development in infrastructure.


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