Explainer: What to expect from AU summit as education, development take center stage-Xinhua

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Explainer: What to expect from AU summit as education, development take center stage

Source: Xinhua| 2024-02-17 11:03:45|Editor: huaxia

ADDIS ABABA, Feb. 17 (Xinhua) -- As African leaders gather at the headquarters of the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, enhancing education, fostering development momentum, and ensuring peace and security are set to take center stage at the summit.

The summit, held from Wednesday to Sunday under the AU's theme for 2024: "Educate an African fit for the 21st Century: Building resilient education systems for increased access to inclusive, lifelong, quality, and relevant learning in Africa," is deliberating on the continent's current state of affairs.

DRIVING AFRICA'S DEVELOPMENT AGAINST CHALLENGES

As part of the AU summit, the AU Executive Council meeting, which brings together foreign ministers from AU member states, concluded Thursday.

Addressing the executive council meeting, Chairperson of the AU Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat emphasized the importance of bolstering Africa's capabilities to drive its development aspirations while addressing recurrent man-made and natural challenges.

"Africa must, for its peace, its security and its sustainable development, count first and foremost on its own strengths, its own genius, its own chain of solidarity," said Faki.

Africa should build resilience against global uncertainties, as the continent faces the brunt of global economic and security shocks, the adverse effects of climate change, and inequalities, among others, said Faki.

"The repercussions of this global geopolitical fact reach our continent which, unfortunately, is also facing serious situations of armed conflict," Faki added, emphasizing the need to tackle Africa's continued security and development challenges collectively.

Experts and officials from different African nations made similar remarks.

"Africa has natural resources, a young population, and a labor force that can be educated. Africa could be the investment destination globally if these constraints are addressed," said Costantinos Bt. Costantinos, who has served as an economic advisor to the AU and the United Nations (UN) Economic Commission for Africa.

Dhoihir Dhoulkamal, Comorian foreign minister and the chairperson of the AU Executive Council, emphasized the importance of Africans from all walks of life to join forces towards realizing the common goal of building "an Africa we want," free from insecurity and external dependence, while also building resilience against climate change.

INCREASED VOICE ON INTERNATIONAL STAGE

Given Africa's increasing prominence on the global stage, exemplified by the AU's permanent membership in the G20 and the growing engagement of African countries in key multilateral platforms such as BRICS, the summit is expected to further underscore the importance of enhancing Africa's common position in international affairs.

Faki said the G20 membership provides an important impetus to fast-track Africa's position on the global stage.

Similarly, Ethiopian Minister of Foreign Affairs Taye Atske Selassie emphasized that the AU's membership in the G20 represents the broader African continent and would contribute to amplifying Africa's voice on the global stage.

The AU and the African continent are encouraged to exert concerted efforts to make better use of the G20 membership as a valuable platform to amplify Africa's priorities in the global arena, said Atske Selassie.

Apart from the AU's G20 membership, the contribution of individual AU member countries to enhancing Africa's position in key multilateral institutions like BRICS is acknowledged, he added.

Atske Selassie further said that, as one of the new members of the BRICS family, Ethiopia will leverage its membership in the BRICS mechanism, together with other African countries, to further advance the shared interest of the continent and contribute to a strengthened global governance and multilateralism.

During the 15th BRICS Summit held in Johannesburg, BRICS leaders agreed to invite countries including Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates to join the group. The membership of these countries took effect on Jan. 1, 2024.

ANTICIPATING ENHANCED CHINA-AFRICA COOPERATION

Experts and AU officials expressed optimism about increased China-Africa cooperation, especially in education and human capital development.

Speaking to Xinhua on the sidelines of the summit, Albert Muchanga, AU commissioner for Economic Development, Trade, Tourism, Industry and Minerals, said Africa-China cooperation in education and vocational training is "very important" and a critical enabler for human capital development in Africa.

"China and Africa are cooperating very, very well. We have continuous engagements and there are frameworks for collaboration. It (China-Africa cooperation in the education sector) is very important and we encourage it to continue," the AU commissioner said.

Muchanga emphasized China's critical role in augmenting Africa's human capital, particularly among the continent's youth, ultimately contributing to Africa's socio-economic development.

One of the manifestations of the ever-expanding China-Africa cooperation in education and human capital development is the expansion of the Chinese-supported Luban Workshops across the continent.

Since Africa's first Luban Workshop was launched in Djibouti back in March 2019, a number of African countries such as Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda have launched world-class Luban Workshops to provide quality vocational training to local people and support Africa's industrialization.

Cooperation in education and talent development is seen as a vivid example of robust China-Africa ties, ranging from flourishing diplomatic and economic relations to growing people-to-people and cultural exchanges.

"The Africa-China camaraderie is in its prime stage with Chinese investments fueling infrastructure and industrial development in Africa. China is now the number one trading partner of Africa. South-South cooperation is in full bloom," Costantinos said.

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