“Continued strong cooperation and collaboration between our two institutions is crucial for advancing Africa’s structural transformation and industrialization agenda,” said Ms. Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), during her first official meeting with the African Union Commission (AUC) Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat, on Tuesday 22 August, 2017.
In their discussions on ways of advancing the African development agenda, Ms. Songwe highlighted Regional Integration and the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) as “areas that need our urgent action.” She noted that, if brought to fruition, CFTA and regional integration will significantly accelerate the growth of African economies, create jobs, and engender peace.
For his part, Mr. Mahamat congratulated Ms. Songwe on her new role as ECA Executive Secretary, stating, “I can assure you of our determination to work with you and your team in order to advance growth on the continent.” He added, “you are the technical advisors of the continent and we rely on you.” The AUC Chairperson stated that in addition to regional integration and the CFTA, ECA and AUC need to seriously reflect on the way forward for member States in line with AGOA and the EPAs, beginning with the meetings in Abidjan in November.
The ECA Chief reiterated the Commission’s engagement and availability to work with the AUC, stating, “we are here to serve and provide AUC with all the support it needs from us.” The two leaders underscored the need for an integrated approach to implementing Agendas 2030 and 2063, and agreed to hold regular meetings to evaluate their progress in addressing key continental issues.
Ms. Songwe also congratulated the AUC Chairperson on the signing of the joint UN-AU Framework for Enhancing Partnership on Peace and Security between AUC Chairperson and UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, in April 2017. This, she said, demonstrates the UN’s and the SG in particular’s focus on Africa. “Together we should work to implement the actions in the MOU in a speedy manner,” she urged the AUC Chairperson.
On the AU reform agenda, the two leaders agreed on the need to accelerate implementation. The AUC Chairperson informed Ms. Songwe on progress made in hiring members of the implementation team and thanked the ECA for support provided thus far in line with the implementation of the reform, aimed at making the AU more fit for purpose. As a member of the Kagame AU reform team, the Executive Secretary pledged full support to the AUC and agreed to double efforts to ensure progress is made on the reform agenda.
The meeting was part of a series bilateral meetings undertaken by Ms. Songwe since taking office as ECA’s Executive Secretary in August, 2017.