A group of Masters Students from the University of Nebraska Lincoln in USA visited the African Union Commission (AUC) on 29 June 2016. The visit was an educational experience with specific interest in Food, Security, Health and Nutrition, Agenda 2063, and other developmental program of the AU. The Students and officials were received by representatives from the Directorate of Information and Communication who briefed the guests on the history of the AU. The students received briefings from some AUC resource persons and a guided tour of the AUC compound.
Ambassador Lazarus Kapambwe from the Bureau of the Chairperson gave an insightful presentation on the Agenda 2063 and stated that the Agenda is a strategic framework for Africa’s socio-economic development over a period of 50 years. He emphasized that the framework builds on, and seeks to accelerate the implementation of past and existing continental initiatives for growth and sustainable development. Amb. Kapambwe highlighted the seven Aspirations of Agenda 2063 which reflects the desire for shared prosperity and well-being, for unity and integration. He also enlightened the students on the key areas of focus under Agenda 2063 including its 12 flagship projects.
Dr. Akoto Osei from the Department of Social Affairs addressed the students on Food, Security, Health and Nutrition in Africa. Dr. Osei underscored that Nutrition and Agriculture issues are prominent for a prosperous Africa, in addition hunger, poverty, agriculture productivity and nutrition cannot be achieved without building capacity in the Continent. He further explained that Africa has a development program to ensure 10% of its budget on nutrition indicators, productivity and food safety. Dr. Osei briefly spoke about the effect of Aflatoxin and stated the importance of a central food and safety mechanism, impacts potential solutions in Agriculture, trade and Health which should be addressed.
The representative from Office of the Legal Counsel, Ms. Lami Omale and Mr. Landry Dossan pointed out that the department was grounded on the notion that there are norms that are expected to be followed by each member states of the African Union, and when these norms are violated, the perpetrators must be held accountable. Ms. Omale further explained that the AU has established what is called the ‘Constitutive Act of African Union’ that encourages law abidance and also intervention into member states’ legal affairs giving legal jurisdiction over member states. The example of former Chadian president Hissene Habre who was tried and found guilty by a court in Senegal was given as one of the best practice to combat impunity in Africa.
Mrs. Mahawa Kaba Wheeler, Director of Women, Gender Development Directorate (WGDD) of the AUC addressed the Students by mainly discussing on how African Union is striving to achieve gender equality and women empowerment that has been an issue for a long time. The Director further stressed on the rights of women and how the department is striving to address the issue across the continent especially as the year 2016 was declared “Year of Human Rights with a particular focus on the Rights of Women”.
Dr. Raji Tajudeen representing the Medical Services Directorate, briefed the student about the Ebola outbreak which in particular was the largest outbreak Africa has ever had in terms of the input, manpower and resources. Dr. Tajudeen explained that in handling this issue H.E Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of AUC was at the top of ensuring that the crisis is contained and stopped rapidly. He said, military troops and health specialists were deployed; civilians were engaged (each member state was encouraged to provide at least 20 civilians to volunteer and offer assistance). In each case he explained personnel were mobilized to offer assistance and any necessary guidance in support of the affected countries. He stressed that coordination was vital in this case because many organizations were involved.
Dr. Tajudeen further explained how the AUC Chairperson took it upon herself to engage with renowned funding organizations to facilitate the needed financial help that would go a long way to deal with any future such crisis with the establishment of an African Center for Disease Control (CDC) in the pipeline.
Mr. Ibrahim Sansui from Political Affairs addressed the guests by presenting the mandate of the department and how it addresses many issues that arises in terms of the African Governance Architecture (AGA). Mr. Sansui also added that the AGA ensures harmonization of AU shared values, instruments and coordinating of initiatives towards promoting and consolidating democratic governance on the continent. He also highlighted the values the AGA seeks to achieve in conflict prevention, getting Member States to comply, citizen engagement and knowledge generation.
Worth noting that the guided tours at the AU Headquarters falls in line with the implementation of the AU Communication, Advocacy and Marketing strategy to educate and enlighten the world about the activities of the AUC as well as promote the image of the African Union.