African leaders from across the continent have gathered in the capital for the 25th summit of the African Union (AU), which runs until 15 June, under the theme: "Year of women empowerment and development towards Agenda 2063."
It is being hosted by South Africa for the first time since the formation of the AU in Durban in 2002.
It follows the World Economic Forum on Africa, which was held in Cape Town from 3 to 5 June. According to the Department of International Relations and Co-operation (Dirco), it is an opportunity for South Africa to showcase to the world a country that embodies the spirit of partnership and commitment to Africa's socio-economic development through Agenda 2063.
The summit began with the 30th ordinary session of the Permanent Representatives Committee, convened at the International Relations and Co-operation Department offices yesterday.
The session was co-chaired by South African International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane. The meeting discussed the agenda prepared for the 25th AU Summit, to be held later this week. It is expected that, leading to the Heads of States summit which follows, discussions at this summit will focus on the imminent adoption of the Agenda 2063 agreed by member states in 2013.
Agenda 2063 is a call for action and a road map to achieve continental development goals. It represents a collective effort and an opportunity for Africa to regain its power to determine its own destiny, and is underpinned by the AU vision to build an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, an Africa driven and managed by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the international arena.
African countries are committed to the regional economic integration which will enable the free movement of goods, services, people and capital between national markets, according to the South African government. "This is fundamental to achieving robust and equitable growth in Africa. The regional integration agenda incorporates a range of objectives," it says.
It is about giving African producers access to regional markets and integrating them into more productive regional value chains. It includes integrating financial markets, to enable capital to flow more readily among national economies.
It includes promoting the free movement of labour for more efficient regional labour markets and for improved access to skilled labour for specialist production. These objectives are believed to be essential to achieving structural transformation in African economies, boosting productivity per worker and therefore living standards.
Observers have said Agenda 2063 should be seen as a new phase in efforts by Africans to catalyse development of the continent and strengthen African integration and unity.
The Heads of State and Government meeting, to take place later this week, will consider the report of the commission on the Ebola crisis, the report of the ministerial retreat on the first ten-year implementation plan of Agenda 2063 and modalities for implementation of the alternative sources of financing the AU, the report of the peace and security council on its activities and the state of peace and security in Africa, and progress report of the commission on maternal, new born and child health.
During the summit, visitors will be invited to on tours that will profile South Africa as a country with a rich history of diverse cultures, a land of possibility and opportunity, as well as a proud heritage that continues to shape South Africa's journey to a thriving democracy. The goal is to show South Africa's competitive strengths including its culture, heritage, archaeology, science, technology and innovation.
Originally published by allAfrica - http://allafrica.com