au summit 11.jpgLeaders attending the African Union (AU) summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, are expected to make a decision today on expediting an agreement to enhance commerce and trade among African countries.

 

AU Adviser, Keizire Boaz said the heads of state and government are committed to the objective of this year’s summit, which is finding ways to promote intra-African trade on a continental level.

He says the leaders discussed using sub-regional blocs as a catalyst to promoting trade and commerce in Africa.

The leaders are also expected to elect the African Union Commission Chairperson and other commissioners.

The Head of State and Commander in-Chief Of The Zimbabwe Defence Forces, President Robert Mugabe is attending the two-day summit which officially ends today.

The 18th African Union Summit is underway in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with heads of state gathering to discuss crises on the continent and elect top officials.

The leaders, who include the Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, President Mugabe, will choose the next head of the AU Commission, the pan-African bloc’s executive council, as well as the next AU chairman to succeed Equatorial Guinea’s President Teodoro Obiang Nguema.

However, The summit, held at a sleek new Chinese-built AU headquarters inaugurated Saturday, officially focuses on boosting “Intra-African Trade,” the meeting’s theme.

“Growth on the continent has remained robust — many observers consider that Africa is on the verge of economic take-off. However we are only at the beginning,” said AU Commission head Jean Ping in an opening speech.

“We should speed up the economic integration in the continent. African countries do not trade enough among themselves.”

However, leaders are expected to hold key sideline talks about the crisis in war-torn and famine-struck Somalia, as well as efforts to resolve a deadlock between Sudan and South Sudan over a bitter oil dispute.

Meanwhile, AU leaders have inaugurated a new $200 million headquarters that was funded by China as a gift.

The Chinese government fully financed the construction of the 20-story tower overlooking a conference centre in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.

It took three years to build.

 

A huge golden key was handed over at the handing over ceremony. The first AU summit in the building will take place today.
The new AU building dominates the skyline of Addis Ababa and is the city’s tallest building.

China’s top political adviser, Jiao Qinglan, said the gift is a “symbol of deepening relations.”

He said China is Africa’s largest commercial partner and Chinese investment there amounts to $13 billion.

The inauguration came as the African Union opened a two-day summit at the new headquarters.