ADDIS ABABA — The 38th ordinary session of the African Union (AU) Executive Council, which comprises ministers of the 55-member pan-African bloc, opened on Wednesday in the framework of the 34th AU summit.
The two-day session, which is being held virtually due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, is expected to consider the draft agenda and declarations of the assembly with appropriate recommendations for consideration by the AU heads of states, whose session is slated to take place from Feb. 6 to 7.
Naledi Pandor, Chairperson of the AU Executive Council, who is also Minister Of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa, said in her opening remarks that the COVID-19 pandemic “has had severe effects on our countries and yet it has also united us in a manner reminiscent of the solidarity that the OAU (Organization of African Unity) led against apartheid South Africa.”
“While we are not yet at a level that allows a focus on post COVID-19 recovery, it will be logical to use our precious unity to devise solutions that allow Africa to grow together,” the South African minister said.
Noting that the COVID-19 crisis has created “an unprecedented opportunity to devise innovative responses to new challenges and problems,” she also stressed that the Executive Council may need to initiate an AU-led reflection on what next and how should we coordinate. Pandor also said that since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in the continent in March 2020, African countries have made “huge strides in containing the spread of the virus.” The AU summit is being under the theme “Arts, Culture and Heritage: Levers for Building the Africa We Want,” which is also the theme of 2021.
The AU had dedicated 2020 a year of Silencing the Guns in Africa, which followed the 33rd AU Summit in February last year that was held under the theme “Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development.”
South Africa has been serving the rotating chairmanship of the African Union (AU) since last year.