Top diplomats of the African Union member states met two days for the 42nd ordinary session of the Executive Council of the union.

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Speaking in the AU headquarters, Moussa Faki Mahamat, the chairperson of the AU Commission, pointed to progress achieved when evaluating the first decade of the AU’s development Agenda 2063. He also acknowledged remaining challenges.

“In order to meet the needs of the African people, the AU has been looking for long-term solutions by establishing institutions and increasing the production capacity of food and medicine industries.”

“Currently, the construction of the African Center for Disease Control (CDC) Headquarters is nearing completion, the hosting country of headquarters of the African Medicines Agency (AMA) has been selected, and the establishment is progressing steadily.”

Another key issue was implementation the continental trade zone. Indeed, if 54 AU member states have signed the AfCFTA agreement, as of November 2022, 44 had deposited their instrument of ratification.

Enabling the full aspirations of the free trade deal to materialize

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) Acting Executive Secretary Antonio Pedro called on African countries to exert concerted efforts towards the realization of the continental free trade area.

He said that AfCFTA’s continental market provides the economy of scale in manufacturing, leading to increased intra-Africa trade, which will eventually bring supply chains closer to home and inject a degree of self-sufficiency into essential products such as medicines, food and fertilizers. Consequently, he urged member countries that have not yet ratified the agreement.

“Ten member states have not yet ratified the agreement, and we should not leave them behind. I appeal to them to do so soon,” he pleaded.

“Second, it will soon be four years since the AfCFTA agreement came into force. Regrettably, these four years also presented Africa with multiple shocks. Only through an accelerated and effective implementation of the AfCFTA can Africa build sufficient shock absorbers to build resilience.”

The meeting which started Wednesday (Feb. 15) was held under the AU’s theme of the year: “The Year of AfCFTA:  Acceleration of the African Continental Free Trade Area Implementation.”

It was also expected to consider the draft agenda of the 36th Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly, which is slated to get underway on Saturday (Feb. 18).