Image: Présidence RDC
The 34th Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) saw the election of Félix Tshisekedi, President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as AU Chairperson over the weekend, among other key appointments.
Under the theme, “Arts, Culture and Heritage: Levers for Building the Africa We Want,” the two-day virtual summit positioned regional integration and the operationalization of the African Continental Free Trade Area as tools for continental growth and cooperation, along with the revival of African arts and culture as a vehicle for a shared, pan-African identity.
President Tshisekedi – who will serve a rotating, one-year term in the position – outlined his priorities within the “First-Ten Year Implementation Plan of Agenda 2063 (2013-2023),” the first of five, ten-year plans that seek to transform Africa into a global economic powerhouse.
“My Vision is to see an African Union at the service of the African peoples,” said President Tshisekedi. “I strive with the support of every one of you to take our Organization out from the conference rooms, the hard drives of our computers and the well-crafted files of our secretariats, into the classrooms, the refugee camps, the markets of our cities and in the fields of our respective villages.”
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who assumed the role of AU Chairperson in 2020, noted that while COVID-19 may have impeded progress in social and economic empowerment, the continent demonstrated success in securing debt relief, medical care and financial assistance for African countries throughout the crisis.
“Despite the upheaval caused by this disease, our response as a continent has been about partnership, resilience, innovation and the sharing of strategies and resources,” said President Ramaphosa. “The people of this continent have shown themselves to be resourceful and agile. Significantly, this pandemic has demonstrated the importance and the value of our continental body, the African Union.”
In addition to the implementation of institutional reforms and the issuance of a COVID-19 response report, the Summit saw the re-election of Chadian politician Moussa Faki Mahamat as AU Commission Chairperson for another four-year term.