From Cecilia Banda in Addis Ababa
Addis Ababa, January 28, 2014, ZANIS—President Michael Sata is tomorrow, Wednesday expected to arrive in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to attend the 22nd Ordinary Summit of the African Union (AU) Heads of States Meeting.
The 2014 AU summit will be held under the theme ‘Agriculture and Food Security’ and runs from Thursday, January 30 to Friday, January 31 at the African Union new headquarters in Addis Ababa.
Zambia’s Ambassador to Ethiopia Susan Sikaneta confirmed in an interview with Zambian journalists in Addis Ababa today on the sidelines of the AU summit preparatory meetings at the AU new building that President Sata is expected to arrive at Bole international airport in the afternoon at 14 hours local time.
ZANIS reports from Addis Ababa that Ambassador Sikaneta said a tight schedule awaits President Sata who will join other African heads of states in the summit where critical decisions will be made on the continent’s agriculture and food security as well as the agenda 2063 which envisages having a united Africa in the next 50 years.
Ambassador Sikaneta said President Sata will also hold bilateral meetings with high ranking officials from international organisations that include the New Economic Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) and the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO).
“The two-day AU summit is loaded, the heads of states are coming to make a lot of decisions especially on agriculture and vision 2063,” said Ambassador Sikaneta.
And Zambia’s Foreign Affairs Minister, who is leading the advance delegation that is already attending the pre-summit meetings, said the AU executive council, meeting has prepared a consolidated agenda for the heads of state and government.
Mr. Wylbur Simuusa said the main issues of discussion for the heads of state and government during the two-day summit will be the worrying security situation in the troubled pockets of Africa particularly the Central African Republic (CAR), South Sudan and the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Mr. Simuusa said the heads of state and government will spend a lot of time discussing the fragile security in the three African countries adding that they will act in the best interest of the continent in terms of decisions that will be made and adopted by the summit.
The minister further explained that the summit will also discuss the participation of African countries at the forthcoming Europeans Union (EU)-Africa summit with emphasis on how to respond to the exclusion of Zimbabwe at the high profile meeting.
“Zimbabwe has been singled out, so the summit will have to come up with a decision on this matter especially when dealing with trade issues,” said Mr. Simuusa.
Mr. Simuusa also confirmed that Madagascar, which was suspended from the African Union a few years ago following the takeover of power by insurgents, has been re-admitted to the continental grouping after successfully holding democratic elections this month and swore-in a new President.
The African heads of state and government will also discuss the United Nations reforms and taking center stage will be the lobbying for permanent seats on the security council.
And Transport, Works, Supply and Communications Minister Yamfwa Mukanga said in an interview that infrastructure development was key to sustainable economic development for the African continent.
Mr. Mukanga is also attending the AU pre-summit meetings where he is chairperson of the AU committee meetings on Information Communication and Technology (ICT).
He said Zambia was privileged to chair the committee which has been tasked to discuss continental communication and technology issues and how AU members can leverage from a coordinated development plan in the sector.
“We are working on a big consolidated programme which will be followed by all member states in as far as the ICT sector is concerned and not haphazard works. This will be our road map for 2014,” he said.
He noted that Zambia was at the center stage of this coordination because it already has in place infrastructure that could link the country to most parts of Africa such as the Mchinji-Chipata railway line going to the Nacara corridor in Mozambique in the east and the Nakonde-Dar es Salaam route in the north leading to the Indian ocean port.