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AU Summit to Focus on Development Issues

Chairperson of the African Union, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma waves as she leaves the Elysee Palace in Paris, November 14, 2012.
African Union leaders meeting in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, are grappling with how to solve some of the complex problems hindering the continent's economic development.

The theme of this year's summit is Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance. Speaking at the opening of the African Union summit Monday, African Union Commission Chairman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said the continent is on the rise, but still faces many challenges.

"Our continent still has to contend with huge infrastructural backlogs, backlogs in education, especially higher education, health and other basic services, including responding to rapid urbanization, youth development and the need for food security," she said. "At the same time, it is a matter of concern that negotiations on global trade issues and climate change have almost collapsed with very serious consequences for Africa.”

Dlamini-Zuma called on the AU to focus more on industrialization and economic integration to face these challenges.

The pan-African organization is also confronted with regional conflicts, including in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea-Bissau and the Sudan.

Dlamini-Zuma said the summit should also focus on the countries where stability has been reached through the efforts of the AU.

"We are registering steady progress towards the operationalization of the African peace and security architecture. And they displayed a critical role in the management of these conflict situations. As a result, progress has been registered in Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Madagascar," she said.

The summit marks the pan-African organization's 50-year-anniversary. African ministers of foreign affairs will convene a meeting in Addis Ababa at the end of the week. The heads of state will gather on Sunday and Monday for the assembly meeting of the AU.