Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) and Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairperson of the African Union Commission, fist-bump inside the main hall of the African Union (AU) headquarters on Ras Leulseged St. The biannual summit by heads of state of member countries is being held for two days beginning Saturday. It is the first summit since COVID-19 became a global public health crisis in 2020. The African Union was forced to hold sessions through virtual mediums in the meantime. It also meant that residents in Addis Abeba had forgotten the inconvenience of commuting during these sessions. The streets in the centre of town, branching out from Africa Avenue, were constantly closed off to vehicles. Billboards across the capital that were used to promote the "Great Ethiopian Homecoming" campaign highlight the summit and welcome delegates.



The 35th session of African leaders is held under flareups in coups across Africa, including Mali, Guinea, Sudan and most recently Burkina Faso. They have been suspended from membership in the AU. There is also a growing concern of political violence, civil wars in several member countries, including Ethiopia, the host, and states struggling against insurgencies in the Sahel region. The COVID-19 pandemic remains a primary focus for the AU as representative of a continent with the lowest vaccination rate.  So is the impact of climate change. Nonetheless, the African Union theme for the year is “Building Resilience in Nutrition & Food Security on the African Continent.” Its organisers might have seen it as a germane topic in a continent where over one-third of children are malnourished.


The silver lining applies to the hospitality sector, which considers the AU meetings a boost to business as delegates, leaders and their entourage and advisors descend on Addis Abeba in droves. Prime Minister Abiy's Administration intends to use the occasion to showcase a return to normalcy from an ongoing civil war in the north. The exuberant and colourful gala dinner held for the leaders and entourages attending the summit at the Friendship Square on Saturday illustrates the Administration's keenness to say, "the country is back in business."




PUBLISHED ON Feb 05,2022 [ VOL 22 , NO 1136]


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