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28th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of African Heads of State and Government

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: The AU Heads of State and Government met in Addis Ababa for their 28thOrdinary Session from 30-31 January 2017 under the theme of “Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investments in Youth”. This Summit was very important for a number of reasons. In addition to the fact that it was the first  AU Summit of UNSG, Mr. Antonio Guterres, the Summit had three major items on its agenda: the election of a new Commission including AUC Chairperson; a discussion on AU reform and financing and an agenda item on the readmission of Morocco into the African Union. Elections were also Ms. Francine Muyumba of the Pan-African Youth Union making an intervention in the interactive session. 12 held to elect the bureau of the Union for 2017. It is also important to note that this Summit was taking place in the context of a global political landscape with a lot of uncertainties.

Various speakers during the opening session of the Summit highlighted how important it is that Africa makes investments in youth towards harnessing the demographic dividend. They saw this as the continent’s strategic path towards meeting its aspirations and objectives as set forth in Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

In an unprecedented move by an in-coming Chairperson of the African Union, President Alpha Conde of Guinea recognized and commended UNFPA and its Executive Director for the special role played in moving the continent towards focusing on the demographic dividend agenda and in helping to develop the AU DD Roadmap.

UNSG reiterated the need for investments in youth as an important step towards meeting Africa’s sustainable development objectives. He said “Africa is a young continent, with more than three out of five Africans under the age of 35. Investment in education, training and jobs for youth is one of the priorities for the continent, and is similarly a key priority for the UN”. He said this is therefore no surprise that the African Union declared 2017 as the year for ‘Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investment in Youth”. On her part, the AUC Chairperson said that Africa’s youthful population represents a comparative advantage that must be translated into a demographic dividend. During the Executive Council meeting (of Ministers of Foreign Affairs), the acting Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa, Mr. Hamdok Abdallah, spoke extensively on the demographic dividend and its link to  Africa’s development including towards the future growth and prosperity of the continent and its link to addressing the current unemployment challenge. He highlighted the “strategic urgency to put in place policies which would take advantage of the demographic dividend”.

In terms of the elections, it is worthy of note that there will an over 90 percent change in leadership at the AU Commission from Chairperson, Deputy Chairperson and new Commissioners for all but two departments for which elections have been postponed to the next AU Summit to ensure the AU sticks to its regional and gender balance rules.

The new Commission will be made up of:

  1. AUC Chairperson: Mr. Moussa Faki Mahamat - Chad
  2. AUC Deputy Chairperson: Mr. Thomas Kwesi Quartey – Ghana 13

 COMMISSIONERS

  1. Peace & Security: Mr. Chergui, Smail - Algeria (re-elected)
  2. Political Affairs: Mrs. Samate, Cessouma - Burkina Faso
  3. Infrastructure & Energy: Mrs. Abou-Zeid, Amani - Egypt
  4. Social Affairs: Mrs Elfadil, Mohammed - Sudan
  5. Trade & Industry: Mr. Muchanga, Albert - Zambia
  6. Rural Economy & Agriculture: Mrs. Sacko, Josefa - Angola

Elections for Commissioners for Economic Affairs and Human Resources, Science and Technology have been postponed till the 29th Session of the Assembly to  allow for the election of either one male from Eastern region or one female from Central Region in accordance with the statutes of the African Union Commission.  

With regards to the African Union’s Bureau for 2017, the following have been elected:

  1. Chairperson: H.E Mr. Alpha Conde. President, Republic of Guinea
  2. First Vice-Chairperson: H.E Mr. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, President, Republic of Uganda
  3. Second Vice-Chairperson: H.E Mr. Abdelaziz Bouteflika, President,  People's Democratic Republic of Algeria
  4. Third Vice- Chairperson: His Majesty King MSWATI III, Kingdom of Swaziland
  5. Rapporteur: H.E Mr. Idriss Deby Itno, President, Republic of Chad

Also, on the re-admission of Morocco into the African Union, a majority of countries voted in favour and so the country is now the 55th member of the Union.