The Chief of Protocol of the African Union Commission Mrs. Simone Abala and the Ag. Director of Information and Communication, Mrs. Esther Azaa Tankou, jointly briefed the journalists who were designated by their respective media organs to cover the 26th AU Summit held from 21 to 31 January 2016 at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The briefing took place in the presence of the Spokesperson of the Chairperson of the AU Commission, Mr. Jacob Enoh Eben, who presented the guidelines for media coverage during the summit.
The AU Chief of Protocol began by presenting the mandate of her office. She said Protocol is one of the key departments involved in the preparation of AU meetings, and most importantly AU Summits and conferences.
According to Mrs. Abala, during such meetings, Protocol deals mainly with the following activities:
Airport activities (reception of delegates and dignitaries including welcoming of Heads of State and Delegations with the Host Country counterparts);
Logistics (transport and accommodation needs of AU sponsored guests, Summit office allocation, management of bilateral meeting rooms);
Accreditation (designing, ordering and issuance of Conference Badges, compiling of List of Participants). For Media accreditation, Protocol works closely with the Directorate of Information and Communication;
Seating arrangements of the participants (all the conference rooms set up with Name Plates for every planned or unplanned meeting);
Functions (drafting, ordering and dispatching of Invitation Cards, decoration of venues, provision of tea/coffee breaks, organization of luncheons preceded by the selection of menus for these lunches and coffee/tea breaks in accordance with accepted standards);
Ceremonial (welcoming and ushering of Heads of State/Delegation and Ministers, Program Director/Master of Ceremony).
Meanwhile, the Chief Protocol is the Master of Ceremony during the summit and she coordinates the solemn official ceremony to involve the AU Choir groups who sing the African Union anthem at the opening and official closing of the Summit.
The Ag. Director Information and Communication (DIC) brief the journalists on media tips to facilitate media coverage of the Summit. The issues on accreditation processes, usage of the media center, facilitation of interviews with the leadership of the AU Commission, implementation of the communication strategy of the AU among others, were presented.
The journalists were also informed about the press conferences organised to enable the AU leadership and resource persons of the Commission provide information on the programs and flagship projects under their respective department. These press conferences are intended to keep the journalists busy when the policy making organs of the AU are meeting in close session. It is also aimed at providing source information to the different journalists on various thematic areas especially those related to the theme of the Summit so that they can report efficiently and regularly on the event.