ADDIS ABABA Rays Matt Duffy Jersey , July 3 (Xinhua) -- The 29th ordinary session of the African Union (AU) summit kicks off on Monday at the headquarters of the pan-African bloc in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa.
Under the theme "Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investment in the Youth," African heads of state will also deliberate on key issues including AU financing and institutional reform as well as peace and security on the continent in their two-day gathering.
In his opening remarks, Moussa Faki Mahamat, the new chairperson of the AU Commission, said that various activities have been carried out with the launch of AU reform, while commending President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, who is leading efforts of the reform, and his team for the commitment and contributions to the process.
The chairperson reiterated that peace and security on the continent continues to be the great concern of the pan-African bloc.
"The situation in South Sudan, Somalia, Libya, the Central African Republic, the tense relation between Djibouti and Eritrea, the difficulties in implementing the peace agreement in Mali where the jihadist terrorism is very active and political situation in some African countries such as the DRC, Burundi, Guinea Bissau are the major concerns," said the chairperson.
He said that the AU remains determined to strengthen efforts to deal with peace and security issues by encouraging political solutions in regions where violence still exists.
He called for collaborative efforts, including from civil societies and the private sectors among others, to respond to the humanitarian needs caused by drought, famine, and terrorism in some parts of the continent.
The chairperson also underlined the need for Africa to speak with one voice, which he said is yet another focus by the AU Commission.
In the capacity of the current chair of AU, Alpha Conde, President of the Republic of Guinea, underlined the need to make collaborative efforts to address issues related to the youth in Africa, saying that significant investment in the youth will create a conducive environment for them so that they can be prevented from risky migration, as well as contribute to the development and peace and security on the continent by innovation and by fully utilizing their potential.
Speaking on the occasion, Amina Mohammed, the UN Deputy Secretary-General, also noted the thematic focus on youth this year is a powerful reminder of the core principles of the Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development goal.
"Today, you are here taking decisions that will ensure that Africa benefits from the full potential of all its people, including young women and men," she said, adding that "investing in our youth today reaps the dividend of a peaceful and prosperous Africa tomorrow."
The summit is the first being held since the AU has elected a new commission in January.
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday sent a message of congratulations to African countries and peoples on the convening of the AU summit.
In the congratulatory message, Xi noted the AU is a banner for unity and self-strengthening of Africa, and voiced sincere hope that the AU will lead African countries to keep making greater achievements in the cause of pursuing peace and development.
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