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AU summit: NEPAD becomes AUDA

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Mauritania hosted the 31st Summit of the African Union in its capital city Nouakchott from 25 June-2 July. The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) was at the heart of discussions. By now, nearly all (49 of the 55) member states have signed the agreement establishing the AfCFTA. Chad, Ghana and Niger are among the six countries that have already ratified the agreement. The free trade area will enter into force once at least 22 member countries have ratified it. The AfCFTA will offer new opportunities for business and boost integration within the African continent. African leaders also approved the creation of the African Union Development Agency (AUDA) as a technical body of the African Union, which will have its own legal entity. The NEPAD planning unit is in charge of developing a statute for AUDA, which will be presented and approved at the next AU summit. The transition from NEPAD to AUDA will be organised as a second phase. “A core aspect of the current reforms is to streamline and improve effectiveness and efficiency in delivery in the implementation of AU decisions, policies and programmes across all AU organs and institutions,” explained Ibrahim Mayaki, CEO of the NEPAD Agency. As regards the political and security situation, the members welcomed the progress and gains registered in Guinea-Bissau and Mali, as well as in the fight against the Boko Haram terrorist group. They also chose the theme of 2019: “Year of Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons in Africa: Towards Durable Solutions to Forced Displacement.” Niger is already preparing to host the next AU summit in January 2019.