Africa seeks greater role in international affairs

08:08, July 27, 2010      

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Following decades of playing an observatory role and unfair conditions on the international scene, Africa is now pushing for greater involvement especially on issues that affect its economic development.

At the ongoing African Union (AU) summit here, African leaders are being urged to push for Africa's interests on the international scene.

According to Jean Ping, chairperson of the AU Commission, Africa is increasingly becoming a formidable force on the international scene.

"Africa is gaining strategic importance and is thus attracting attention from a diversity of partners who are increasingly knocking at its doors and showing their interest in cooperating with the continent in mutually beneficial partnerships," he said.

Major world economies are already forging partnership with the continent. A series of summits between the continent and other parts of the world have taken place or are being planned, signaling Africa's increasing importance.

A series of summits are lined up this year. The third Africa- European Union summit is scheduled for later this year in Libya. The second Afro-Arab summit will also be held in Libya this year, 33 years after the first summit was held.

Already other summits like the Sino-Africa summit have been held. The first high-level bilateral with the United States of America-AU meeting was held in April this year.

Africa's insistence not to sign the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) despite pressure and threats from Europe signals the continent's resolve to push for its interests.

The new trade rules would open up African, Caribbean and Pacific countries to competition from technologically advanced European industries and heavily subsidized European farmers.

According to Elisabeth Tankeu, commissioner for trade and industry, African leaders are now going to be asked to push for Africa's interest regarding the EPAs when they meet their European counterparts later this year.

Malawian President and also Chairperson of the AU Bingu Wa Mutharika said at the opening of the 15th AU summit that Africa must have a common voice in international affairs.

He told his counterparts that during the last Group of Eight (G8) and Group of Twenty (G20) summits held in Canada last month, the leaders of the world's leading economies were told that Africa must be actively involved in such major meetings because some of the decisions take there affect the continent.

"We appealed to these organizations to formalize the AU's participation through a permanent mechanism," he said while opening the 15th AU summit here.

He said in all major meetings, Africa should remain united and speak with one voice, especially in the December 2010 climate change talks to be held in Cancun, Mexico.

"We need to go to Cancun with one strong African message," he said.

Source: Xinhua


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