South Africa conducts symbolic handover of chairmanship of the African Union

Johannesburg, South AfricaWritten By: Kalden OngmuUpdated: Feb 06, 2021, 05:36 PM IST


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The handover was done at the virtual 34th Ordinary Session of the assembly of heads of state and government on Saturday. 

The outgoing chairperson of the African Union, President Cyril Ramaphosa, on Saturday conducted a symbolic handover of the AU flag and gave to President Felix Antoine Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo and incoming chairperson of the AU.

The handover was done at the virtual 34th Ordinary Session of the assembly of heads of state and government on Saturday. 

The African Union theme for 2021 will be “Arts, Culture and Heritage: Levers for Building the Africa We Want,” a statement from the presidency said. 

During South Africa’s tenure as the chair, the African Union achieved key priorities as outlined in its programme for 2020. This included the historic advent -- on January 1, 2021 -- of free trade within the African Continental Free Trade Area, the statement said.

Under the leadership of President Ramaphosa and resolute support of the Bureau of the Heads of State and Government of the AU and the AU Secretariat, the following initiatives were undertaken to address the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic, the statement read.

- The establishment of the AU COVID-19 response fund;

- The establishment of the Africa Task Force for Coronavirus (AFTCOR);

- The Partnership to Accelerate COVID-19 Testing in Africa (PACT);

- The Consortium for COVID-19 Clinical Vaccine Trials (CONCVACT);

- The appointment of special envoys to mobilise the international support for the continental fight against COVID-19;

- The establishment of the African Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP): a platform developed to assist the AU member states to tackle issues on the supply side of continent’s response to COVID-19 and access to medical supplies and equipment;

- The initiative of the chair of the AU to engage international partners and financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, the European Union (EU), G20 member states and others to support the issue of debt relief for African countries whose economies have been devastated by the pandemic; 

- The development of the vaccine strategy for the continent which was endorsed by the AU Bureau of Assembly on August 20, 2020; 

- President Ramaphosa’s establishment of the COVID-19 African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT), in support of Africa Vaccine Strategy. The Task Team was mandated to secure the necessary resources for achieving Africa’s COVID-19 vaccine strategy which targets vaccinating a minimum of 60 per cent of Africa’s population and to accelerate the arrangements of financing for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines for the African continent; 

The 34th Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly is expected to consider some of the continent’s pertinent issues related to the selection of the senior leadership of the African Union Commission.