PRESIDENT Lungu will be among heads of State and government of the 54-member African Union (AU) here who will, among other things, deliberate the transformation of the AU, its organs and institutions, to bring them in tandem with the changing development needs of the continent.
At a press briefing at the AU headquarters here yesterday, Zambia’s Ambassador to Ethiopia, Susan Sikaneta, confirmed President Lungu’s arrival in Addis Ababa today, for the 26th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the AU.
“I have the honour to inform the nation that His Excellency the President, Mr Edgar Lungu, accompanied by the First Lady, will arrive in Addis Ababa tomorrow (today) to attend the 26th session of the Assembly of the African Union.
“It’s always a pleasure and delight to have our President to come and interact with his colleagues, the heads of State and government of the African Union,” she said.
The First Lady is expected to attend meetings of the Organisation of African First Ladies against HIV/AIDS, on the sidelines of the summit.
The theme for this year’s AU Summit which started on January 21 and ends on the January 31, 2015 is “The African year of human rights with particular focus on the Rights of women”.
Ms Sikaneta explained that the AU leaders will be considering the need to restructure its organs and institutions, which at formation was tailored for political emancipation, to align it to the economic agenda for the continent aimed at creating a prosperous Africa.
She said after 50 years of existence, the AU realised that its needs have changed, therefore it has to tailor its institutions and organs to economic management of the continent in line with Agenda 2063.
“There are a lot of flagship programmes that the AU has in the pipeline under Agenda 2063. These include the Ingar Dam project for Energy in the Democratic Republic of Congo; the establishment of the Free Trade Area; free movement of people, goods and services; introduction of an African passport; establishing on an African air transport market, the high speed train and railway projects and the silencing of guns project for the establishment of peace and security on the continent,” Ms Sikaneta said.
Ms Sikaneta said President Lungu and other African leaders will look at aligning Agenda 2063 to national development programmes as domestication of the agenda is critical to realise sustainable development.
Ms Sikaneta said the summit will also consider the issue of equitable geographical distribution of AU organs, institutions and staffing across the continent so that no country is seen to have undue dominance.
“In the past, there was no equity in the hosting of meetings by AU member states,” Ms Sikaneta said.
In this vein, Zambia has presented a bid to host the secretariat of the Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC), which is an advisory organ to the AU, composed of civil society organisations.
Ms Sikaneta also said Zambia is contesting election to the 15-member Peace and Security Council, which carries a three-year term of office.
Zambia has been selected to host, at regional level, the Centre for Disease Control.
In addition, Zambia is among eight AU member states that are on the list of countries that will manufacture components for the continental high-speed train project.
The high-speed train project is an initiative to link capital cities of the AU by railway, and under this project, all components for manufacturing the railway and trains will be done within Africa.
Zambia has proposed Mpika as the base for the project, although the country is yet to be informed of the specific components it will produce.
Other agenda items are recommendations to increase the AU budget, to make the organisation less dependent on external support.
Alternative sources of funding to AU programmes will also be discussed.
The summit will also look at the looming economic crisis in Africa, considering the price fall of export commodities. Unusual drought across the continent and floods are also on the agenda.
Meanwhile, AU Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini- Zuma yesterday opened the 28th Ordinary Session of the AU Executive Council.
Zambia was represented in the meeting by ministers of Foreign Affairs, Harry Kalaba, Justice, Ngosa Simbyakula, and Gender, Nkandu Luo, as well as Ambassador Sikaneta