Africa, let’s talk

Getting ready for the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa

February 16, 2023
Addis Ababa Picture

The 36th African Union summit will convene Heads of State and Government of the 55 AU Member Sates from 18-19 February 2023 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Photo: Wiki Commons

All of us taking part in the AU Summit this month, whether in person or online or in spirit, have a common dream. In the words of the AU mission statement, it is a dream of “shared peace, stability and prosperity” for the people of Africa. UNDP is committed to this dream, having partnered with the AU since its transformation from the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) over two decades ago.

It is often said that Africa is a place of multiple challenges. But we all know that Africa is also a land of abundance. We see it in our food, our music, our humour, our histories, our struggles, our entrepreneurs, our public servants, our visionaries, and the love we have for our homes and neighbours.

The 36th African Union Summit will convene Heads of State and Government of the 55 AU Member States from 18-19 February 2023 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Discussions will consider, among others, the Annual Report of the Union and its organs, the report on the operationalization of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), and the development of the second 10-year implementation plan for Agenda 2063.

The theme of the year 2023 is The Year of AfCFTA: Acceleration of the African Continental Free Trade Area Implementation. If successfully implemented, the AfCFTA will lead to the "creation of more decent jobs, improved welfare and better quality of life for all citizenry, and sustainable development.”

In our abundance, we see that shared prosperity is not only a dream of tomorrow. It is a reality today and every day. This month in Addis, let us share our wealth. Come find UNDP representatives and talk with us about our shared work.

This weekend, under the leadership of Ahunna Eziakonwa, UN Assistant Secretary General, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director of the Regional Bureau for Africa, UNDP will be actively participating at the AU Summit, at side events, on social media, and in conversations with AU officials, African member states, regional partners and institutions, and international development actors. In recent years, the partnership with the AU Commission, which has made such extensive engagement possible, has been initiated and sustained through the Regional Programme for Africa, a flagship UNDP initiative delivering on joint UN-AU priorities as outlined in SDG Agenda 2030 and the AU’s 2063.

We invite you to join us to talk about: 

  1. SILENCING THE GUNS: The AU’s Silencing the Guns initiative aspires to end all wars and conflict, prevent genocide, and stop gender-based violence. Mozambique’s 2019 peace agreement and its experience with disarmament, demobilization and reintegration provide insight into how a development approach can support this goal. Learn more from UNDP’s 2022 report on Silencing the Guns in Africa. On 17 February, the AU, Chatham House and UNDP will organize an event to highlight lessons learnt from Mozambique’s experience and the role that international partnerships have played in supporting a sustainable peace process. Among the speakers are President Azali Assoumani of Comoros, President Filipe Nyusi of the Republic of Mozambique, UNDP's Ahunna Eziakonwa, and other African and international dignitaries.
  2. FULFILLING THE PROMISE OF THE AfCFTA: The creation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) was an enormous step towards the AU’s mission of shared prosperity. Now the challenge for countries is how to fulfil the promise of this historic agreement. UNDP’s experts support countries with policy guidance and tools to increase their share of intra-African trade. We also support businesses directly. “Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) are the backbone of production, trade and employment in Africa,” explains Komi Tsowou, UNDP Regional Advisor on the AfCFTA. “UNDP helps MSMEs gain access to markets and innovative finance while adopting digital technologies so they can maximize opportunities in the AfCFTA.”
  3. ENSURING GENDER EQUALITY: Prosperity means nothing if women and girls are left behind—especially considering that women are the source of much of Africa’s wealth and do the great majority of unpaid labour. UNDP is committed to advancing gender equality in all areas of development. Our 2020 Futures Report gave practical guidance on how to make the AfCFTA work for women and youth. UNDP is a co-convener of the Gender Pre-Summit, taking place on 17 February, where our Regional Director for Africa, Ahunna Eziakonwa, will make a statement in support of the Women and Youth Financial and Economic Inclusion (WYFEI) initiative. “Systemic bottlenecks have led to 70% of African women and youth being financially and economically excluded”, shared Cleopatra Phiri-Hurungo, O.i.C Regional Advisor and Gender Team Leader at UNDP. “Leveraging on thoughtfully designed initiatives such as WYFEI will enable us to unlock the potential of our women and youth.”
  4. PREVENTING VIOLENT EXTREMISM (PVE): UNDP recently released two new reports as part of a series on preventing violent extremism. The second edition of the Journey to Extremism in Africa report, based on more than 2,000 interviews, shows that people join violent extremist groups largely because of economic deprivation and abuses by state security forces. The report provides valuable evidence that a development approach—investing in jobs, schools and services—is a cost-effective way to reduce and prevent violent extremism. “Local communities play a pivotal role in supporting sustainable pathways out of violent extremism, along with national governments' amnesty programmes,” said UNDP’s Regional Peacebuilding Advisor Nirina Kiplagat. UNDP will also present a complementary research paper, Dynamics of Violent Extremism in Africa, that explores the underlying drivers of violent extremism, including tipping points to recruitment, and the modus operandi and business models of violent extremist groups. Join the launch event on 17 February to learn how UNDP helps countries put this groundbreaking research into practice.
  5. UNLOCKING AFRICA’S CREATIVE CAPITAL: The creative economy is an important source of commercial and cultural value, and an enabler of trade and sustainable development. In Africa, the potential for creative industries to solve challenges and inspire entrepreneurship and innovation holds immense power. The AU20 Residency Programme, implemented in partnership with the African Union to celebrate 20 years since the AU’s establishment, challenged 10 African writers and artists to depict their vision for Africa’s future within the context of the organization’s 20-year history. “We cannot overlook the valuable contributions African creatives have made to sharing the continent’s stories and growing its economy,” said Michelle Mendi Muita, Regional Communications Specialist at UNDP. “The depth of artistic talent is rich across the continent, but there needs to be investment in mentorship, business and skills training, and connecting them to international partnerships that could increase their visibility globally.”
  6. STAYING THE COURSE FOR AGENDA 2063: Agenda 2063 helps countries stay focused on the big goals that can be achieved only over a long period of time. And yet, unexpected events such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine are bound to disrupt progress. Barely 15% of the ambitions in the first decade of Agenda 2063 have been achieved. Frederick Mugisha, SDG Integration Advisor at UNDP’s Regional Service Centre for Africa, asks, “What should our collective ambitions be for the second decade of Agenda 2063? And how can we close the gap between our ambitions and our achievements?” Wrestle with this important question with Mugisha and other UNDP representatives around the Summit.
  7. ADDRESSING COMPLEX POLITICAL TRANSITIONS IN AFRICA: In 2022, UNDP acknowledged and committed to efforts by African member states to address recurring peace and security challenges in Africa, as illustrated by three AU statements endorsed at the political level, namely the Accra Declaration, the Malabo Declaration and the Tangier Declaration. Special attention is required to respond to the rising epidemic of coups, which continues to undermine and delay democracy. “I hope decision makers at this year’s AU Summit will find the space to prioritize the demands of citizens,” says Fatma Ahmed, a Capacity Building Specialist at UNDP, adding, “How can we move from rhetoric to action in 2023?” A UNDP organized side event at this year’s Munich Security Conference will explore the rise of military coups and the need for democratic renewal in Africa.


Follow the conversation on UNDP Africa’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts using the hashtags #AfricaLetsTalk #AUSummit.