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African Union summit to focus on 'silencing the guns'

African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia RFI/Miguel Martins

This year’s African Union Summit has already opened in the Ethiopian capital at the body’s headquarters, but the main two-day event kicks off on 9 February, with heads of state coming in from all over Africa to discuss this year’s main topic: silencing the guns.

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Silencing the Guns is really an effort by the AU to focus energy into meeting development goals as set out by the Aspirations of Africa’s Agenda 2063, specifically Aspiration 4: a peaceful and secure African, thereby “making peace a reality for African people,” states the official preamble.

In the lead-up to Sunday’s final event, side meetings have been taking place on the sidelines since the summit officially opened on 21 January.

Unofficial agenda

Sideline meetings will tackle topics from Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in an age of #metoo movements, to the African energy sector and food security, particularly at a time when climate change is wreaking havoc on food supplies.

The droughts of southern African and the locust invasion of eastern Africa continue to play into food security, along with the floods in Mozambique in 2019 following cyclone Idai.

All weather –related events that point a finger to climate change.

Controversies

Each year brings unexpected controversies as in 2018 when Morocco was officially brought back into the AU family.

Or the brouhaha that erupted the same year following an investigation released by the French paper Le Monde alluding to Chinese espionage through the China-built AU headquarters.

In fact, that leads into today’s latest controversy.

China has announced it will build an 80 million dollar headquarter for the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Ethiopia.

Already Washington has spoken out against the move, citing "concerns over Beijing’s scientific spying programme.”

“It’s a threat to Africa. Africa has vast amounts of genomic data and the Chinese want to build the CDC to eventually steal the data from all the other centres,” a US administration official told the Financial Times.

In the wake of the Ebola virus epidemic in 2014, the Africa Center for Disease and Control was launched in 2017, with five regional hubs including Egypt, Nigeria, Gabon, Kenya and Zambia.

In response to the China’s plans to create such a headquarter in Addis Ababa, the US has threatened to withhold funding to the CDC.

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