African leaders have met in Addis Ababa to seek peace, security and discuss continental trade – AfCFTA

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Insecurity and conflict, the two inter-linked problems that have been synonymous with parts of Africa for decades, will be lurking in the shadows of the 36th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union to be held in #Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from February 15-19.

The theme of the summit is continental trade, a big deal since the creation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement in 2018.

Leaders, had then, after signing the Sirte Declaration, observed that Africa needed to adjust from fighting colonialism and entrenching pan Africanism to combating conflict and encouraging economic integration.

African Union Commission chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat’s home country of Chad, for example, has been struggling with protests since Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno extended his transitional leadership by 24 months. In December, the African Union Peace and Security Council condemned the violence but hasn’t discussed the issue any further. Rights groups accuse Deby of cracking down on dissent and recently wrote to the AU Peace and Security Council demanding a response against violations.


Suspended Sudan wants to get back into the African Union family even though it has failed to resume its transition calendar as required by the AU.

Libya, one of the pioneers of the AU, has since been felled by competing warlords. The conflict in Ethiopia has ebbed after a peace deal, something the AU may take credit for mediating. But the insurgency in Cameroon is almost unspoken of on the AU agenda.

Prominent conflicts by non-state actors include the Tuareg separatist and jihadist insurgencies in Mali, Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria, jihadist and militia insurgencies in Burkina Faso, al Shabaab in Somalia, and the ethnic war in the Central African Republic.

The AU’s Agenda 2063, drafted in 2013, was meant to ease conflict, encourage trade, integration and raise prosperity. But the continental body already missed its initial target of “silencing guns” by 2020. The International Crisis Group has listed the extremist violence in the Sahel region in West Africa as one of the 10 violent flash points to watch in 2023.

There have been a total of four successful coups in Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso since 2020 and an unsuccessful attempt in Niger last year.

Credit: Mark-Anthony Johnson