30th AU summit launches African Anti-Corruption Year
African leaders from the African Union’s (AU) 55 member countries gathered from 22-29 January in Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia, to discuss the continent’s integration agenda. “Winning the fight against corruption: A sustainable path to Africa’s transformation” was the official topic of the 30th AU Summit. On this occasion, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari launched the AU’s 2018 theme, fighting corruption on the continent. He announced that in 2018 the African Union will prioritise three initiatives aimed at: i) organising an African youth congress against corruption; ii) advancing the implementation of the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combatting Corruption; and iii) strengthening the criminal justice system across Africa by exchanging information and sharing best practices on the enforcement of anti-corruption laws. Preventing conflict and improving peace and security on the continent remain top priorities for the African Union. At least 18 elections are scheduled for 2018, including presidential elections in Mali and parliamentary elections in Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Sierra Leone and Togo. A progress report on the implementation of the AU master roadmap of practical steps to silence the guns in Africa by year 2020 was presented to the AU Assembly. In terms of institutional decisions, Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame was elected as the AU chair for a one-year mandate, taking over from Guinea’s President Alpha Condé. Kagame is a strong defender of the regional integration agenda and institutional reforms. “Unity must be our starting point, as we do the necessary work of re-defining our plans and ambitions, in continental terms… These changes need to happen. There is no country on our continent that does not want to be part of a more assertive and visible Africa,” Kagame declared. A large number of events were organised on the side-lines of the summit: The UN and the AU concluded a new AU-UN framework for the implementation of Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, focusing on five key areas: corruption, peace and security, inclusive and sustainable development, climate change and international migration. Idriss Déby, President of Chad was elected as the African Peer Review Forum’s new chairperson. The newly launched African Leaders for Nutrition initiative aims to overcome all forms of malnutrition on the continent and reduce the cost of hunger in Africa. The AU also launched the Africa Agriculture Transformation Scorecard (AATS) to drive agricultural productivity and development. Moreover, the OECD Development Centre and the African Union organised a joint press conference to draw attention to recent research findings on migration and development. About 80% of African migration takes place within the African continent and those immigrants make significant contributions to their African host countries. Facilitating intra-regional mobility remains a key challenge for the continent, despite existing treaties on the free movement of citizens (i.e. ECOWAS area). The launch of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM), a flagship project of Agenda 2063, is an important step forward. The OECD Development Centre and the AU also announced a joint report, “Dynamics of African Economies,” which will be launched at the next continental gathering in July 2018.