The 32nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union opened in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia at the AU headquarters.
The two-day summit is being held under the theme “The Year of Refugees, Returnees, and Internally Displaced Persons: Towards Durable Solutions to Forced Displacement in Africa”.
In his opening remark, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, praised the reform being undertaken within the African Union.
“On the area of reform, we are making steady progress and improving accountability,” he told the annual summit.
According to the Chairperson, African countries are also showing progress in practicing democratic elections despite the challenges encountered.
The Chairperson further said that “the fight against terrorism at Sahel and Lake Chad Basin continues to be a concern for us.”
“Despite the remarkable efforts deployed by the countries in these regions, the situation remains very serious. It calls a new impetus of solidarity.”
Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, for his part said “I will do all I can to help you (African leaders) achieve your objectives.”
Over 50 billion US dollars has been invested over the last years by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation into fighting poverty and addressing health on the African continent, he said.
FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, said football can play an important role to unite and integrate Africa.
Director General of World Health Organization (WHO) Dr Tedros Adhanom, for his part underscored the importance of universal health coverage to transform the health of populations and change the development trajectory of economies
UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres said “Africa is on the move and there are real reasons for optimism, Great challenges remain but winds of hope are blowing throughout our shared agenda.”
Despite the continent’s own social, economic and security challenges, Africa’s governments and people have kept borders, doors and hearts open to millions in need, he added.
The Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah E-Sisi formally assumed chairmanship of the African Union for the year 2019 from the outgoing chairperson Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda.
President E-Sisi remarked that mediation and preventive diplomacy will remain one of the key mechanisms to promote peace and security in the continent.
He also stressed the need to combat terrorism as it is a cancer that affects African nations and steals the dreams of African people.
He further urged developed countries to honour their commitments in protecting the environment as they are the major contributors to climate change that negatively impacts developing nations.