The 22nd African Union heads of states and government summit has opened in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia today with its leaders launching 2014 as the year of agriculture and food security.
President Michael Sata is among African leaders that attended the opening ceremony of the summit and he was accompanied by Foreign Affairs Minister Wilbur Simuusa, Agriculture Minister Bob Sichinga and Zambia’s Ambassador to Ethiopia Susan Sikaneta.
President Sata arrived here yesterday to attend the summit whose theme is ‘agriculture and food security’, in the company of First Lady Christine Kaseba.
The African leaders have also called for renewed effort and international support in finding a lasting solution to the deteriorating security situation in the Central African Republic (CAR), South Sudan and the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Ato Hailemariam Dessalegn opened the summit at the new African Union Conference centre today and noted that Africa needs to boost its agriculture and food security as a major stepping stone to attaining sustainable socio-economic development.
Mr. Dessalegn, who is the outgoing chairperson of the AU, said the union was happy that most African countries had in the past year committed substantial funding to finance agricultural activities in order to increase food security at the national level.
The Ethiopian Prime Minister however expressed concern at the fragile security situation in the three trouble-torn spots namely Central African Republic, South Sudan and the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) which he said if not contained, would turn catastrophic and spread to other parts of the continent.
“We need to find urgent solutions for South Sudan and CAR because failure will have serious implications on the continent,” said Mr. Dessalegn.
And African Union Commission Chairperson Kosazane Dlamin-Zuma echoed the sentiments expressed by the Ethiopian Prime Minister that there was urgent need to find a lasting solution to the devastating conflicts in the Central African Republic and South Sudan.
Dr. Zuma said the AU had responded to the civil and religious fights in the two African countries by appointing a special envoy for women realizing that women and children are the most affected during such calamities.
Meanwhile, the AU summit has officially welcomed Madagascar back into the continental grouping after it was suspended five years ago due to political unrest that saw its President Mack Ravalomanana ousted from power by insurgents.