AU summit stresses development, peace
Speakers at the 33rd session of the African Union summit that opened on Sunday in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa expressed views on development, peace and security, and the economic empowerment of women.
In his opening remarks, Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairman of the AU commission, said that man-made and natural disasters are hurting the livelihoods of Africans, underlining the need for solidarity and more efforts to address them and build on the achievements already made.
Looking back on a troubled 2019, Mahamat stressed the need for people to mobilize all their energies in order to respond to the challenges that arise.
He also pointed to the persistence of terrorism and instability in many parts of Africa. Civilians and uniformed personnel die every week, Mahamat said, and children are forced to stay away from schools.
Mahamat called for solidarity with the people of the affected countries, including those in the Horn of Africa, the Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin region.
"This deficit of active solidarity is one of the fragilities of our systems of resistance and our overall capacity of continental resilience. I strongly wish that African solidarity be the spearhead for the international support of our partners in the world," Mahamat said.
As the incoming chair of AU, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said Africans should take the opportunities created by the African Continental Free Trade Area to spur industrialization, and achieve Africa's aspiration of greater integration and prosperity.
"The African Continental Free Trade Area that we adopted last year will enable us to work together through intra-Africa trade as it will reignite industrialization and pave the way for Africa's integration into the global economy as a player of considerable weight and scale," he said.
"It is the realization of the dream of our fore-parents to see the rich resources of our continent being marshaled for the collective benefit of all Africans."
He has also urged African leaders to fulfill their responsibilities on enabling people's aspirations for development, peace and integrity on the continent.
Regarding the novel coronavirus outbreak in China, ministers of foreign affairs of the AU member states said they are confident that China will contain the deadly virus.
In an interview on the sidelines of the summit, Antonio Guterres, secretary-general of the United Nations, applauded China's efforts to contain the outbreak.
"This is a serious situation and it requires very strong international cooperation and solidarity," he said.
He said that, despite the need for countries to maintain close cooperation for economic growth, it's important that all precautions be taken to avoid spread of the coronavirus. He said countries should avoid stigmatization that can sometimes accompany outbreaks of a virus.
Dr John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the organization has held meetings and briefings on the coronavirus outbreak to ensure that the continent is fully prepared for any eventuality.
"The World Health Organization has distributed test kits and we will be organizing training with 20 countries on the appropriate use of the kits," he said.
Xinhua and Edith Mutethya in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, contributed to this story.