A three-day meeting of the two Working Groups of the Africa-Arab Partnership in the areas of Trade and Investment and Transport, Communication and Energy kicked off on 3 February 2016, at the Headquarters of the African Union Commission in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with a joint plenary session.
Opening the meeting, the Co-chair on the African side, Dr. Levi Uche Madueke, Head of Africa’s Strategic Partnerships within the Bureau of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC) welcomed the Delegation of the League of Arab States (LAS) and other participants on behalf of H.E. Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the AU Commission and expressed the commitment of the Commission to drive and provide all necessary support mechanisms towards ensuring that the Africa-Arab Strategic Partnership framework delivers on its expectations. He informed the participants that the meeting is a follow up of the preparatory meeting held in Cairo in March 2015,and the subsequent one held during the AU/LAS consultative meeting in Cairo on 13 December 2015, where it was decided to collapse the three working groups in Transport, Communication and Energy into one Working Group.
Dr. Madueke recalled the Resolutions of the 3rd Africa-Arab Summit held in Kuwait in November 2013, which underscored the need to strengthen Africa-Arab cooperation in the areas of Trade, Investment, Transport, Communication and Energy and, in this direction,stated the objective of the meeting, which is to develop an Africa-Arab Action Plan in the areas of Trade and Investment and Transport, Communication and Energy, which will be ultimately incorporated in the main Action Plan 2017-2019, that will be presented to the 4th Africa-Arab Summit to be held in Equatorial Guinea in November 2016.
The Head of Africa’s Strategic Partnerships made reference to the Africa-Arab Partnership Action Plan 2011-2016, endorsed by the 2nd Africa-Arab Summit held in Libya in October 2010 and underscored the need to take into consideration the lessons learnt in the implementation process of this Plan, while developing a new Plan for 2017-2019. He stated that the Action Plan to be developed by the Working Groups should as much as possible focus on few but feasible projects that will bring meaningful changes in the lives of African and Arab Peoples. He also underlined the need to identify source of funding and propose implementation mechanisms for each project.
He briefed the meeting on Agenda 2063, the “Africa we want” which maps out Africa’s future direction and requestedthe working groups to ensure that this important initiative is taken on board while proposing the Action Plan.
The Co-chair of the meeting on the Arab side, Dr. Khaled Foda, Director of the Telecommunications Department of the League of Arab States on his part congratulated the African Union on the recently concluded AU Summit and thanked the Commission for organizing this important meeting. He assured the meeting of the commitment of the League of Arab States to make the meeting a great success.
Following the plenary session, the meeting will split into two Working Groups and deliberate on their areas of proficiency, after which they will reconvene on 5th of February 2016 to compile the outcomes of their deliberations in one single document, which will be considered by the 9th Senior Officials Meeting of the Coordination Committee of the Africa-Arab Partnership planned to be held in Cairo on 29 February 2016.