Thirty African leaders are meeting in Mauritania for a two-day summit focusing on fighting corruption and dealing with the continent's humanitarian and security crises.
At the opening of the summit Sunday, host Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz warned of security failings in the region as four civilians were killed in an attack targeting a French patrol in Mali.
Aziz called for taking a comprehensive approach to deal with extremist attacks.
"The success of this approach entails the integration of solutions to the imbalances and the economic and social shortcomings that push our young people to become radicalized,'' he said.
Mali has been plagued by violence in recent days. Sunday's attack comes just days after Islamist militants raided the headquarters of a five-nation African force in Bamako, leaving six people dead.
The Mauritanian president also warned that if Africa fails to stop corruption, it will not be able to spur economic development.
"Countries that have made progress against corruption have made social, economic and technological progress,'' he said, without citing specific countries.
The leaders are also expected to discuss the peace process in South Sudan and the reconciliation plans between Ethiopia and Eritrea.
Other issues on the table include the upcoming elections in Mali, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe.
Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who holds the presidency of the 55-nation African Union, is set to make a call for free trade across the continent.