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Economy at Top of AU Summit Agenda in S. Africa


FILE - South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana Mashabane, May 11, 2015.

FILE - South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana Mashabane, May 11, 2015.

The 25th African Union [AU] summit is underway in South Africa, with leaders expected to focus on security challenges across the continent, the issue of migrants crossing the Mediterranean, and improving infrastructure.

South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana Mashabane said her country has made all arrangements for a productive African Union Summit.

Addressing reporters Monday in Pretoria, she said the eradication of poverty is at the top of the agenda.

"It’s going to take our will to fold [up] our sleeves, pull [up] our socks, particularly our younger generation and work for the prosperity of this continent and total poverty eradication through radical economic transformation into your own hands," said Mashabane.

Africa is developing rapidly. The countries with the fastest growing economies in the world are found on the continent. But experts believe the lack of good roads, electrical grids and other infrastructure is hampering this growth.

Elham Ibrahim, the AU’s commissioner for infrastructure and energy, said this topic will also be given a great deal of attention as part of the AU's New Partnership for Africa's Development [NEPAD] economic cooperation program.

"We have a permanent session in every summit for the NEPAD where infrastructure is considered and also for the presidential infrastructure championing initiative," said Ibrahim.

Political unrest in Burundi and the war in South Sudan will be discussed, and leaders will also take a closer look at the continued threat of terrorism in countries like Kenya, Nigeria and Somalia.

With thousands of African migrants losing their lives in the Mediterranean Sea while trying to reach greener pastures in Europe, issues of migration will also feature on the agenda.

Officials will discuss the continent’s position on proposed changes at the United Nations, paying particular attention to the role and level of representation of African states in the U.N. system.

Minister Mashabane denied allegations that some African countries were boycotting the summit because of the recent xenophobic violence that took place in South Africa.

"We have received confirmation that all AU member states will be represented. The majority of the heads of state will be attending, so there is no boycotting of the African Union summit in South Africa," said Mashabane.

The summit ends with a heads of state meeting on June 14 and June 15.

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