Ethiopia takes center stage as host of the AU Summit


The African Union (AU) Heads of States Summit, which was forced to convene virtually for the past two years, is set to meet in person at its headquarters in Addis Ababa, on February 5-6, 2022.

As has been the case for the past two years, this year’s African Leaders’ Summit was originally scheduled to take place online. But under pressure from Ethiopia, which headquarters the AU, the previous plans were altered and member states decided to convene the summit in the Ethiopian Capital, Addis Ababa.

In a statement issued on January 17, 2022, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) praised member states of the AU for their decision to convene the 35th AU Summit in person in Addis Ababa.

In his January 17 statement, Abiy praised the current leaders of Africa for acknowledging Ethiopia’s historic and unwavering stance to advance African and Pan African agendas.

“The implications of hosting the AU Summit in Addis Ababa are immense. It would demonstrate the peace and stability in Ethiopia. It would also create opportunities for us to restate our stance on African agendas and practically exhibit Ethiopia’s good status to our African allies,” Abiy said.

Since then, Addis Ababa has been preparing to host the Summit and receive its African guests in the spirit of Pan African.

Streets, roundabouts and squares are decorated with lights and greeneries while abandoned places and sites under construction are adorned with banners hailing African unity and solidarity.

China’s touch, which built the AU headquarters, is visible in this beautification of the capital Addis Ababa.

Though beautifying Addis for AU summit is a common practice and Abiy, who has the heart for aesthetics has tried to scale-up more over the past couple of years.

 Looking at the messages on the banners, the color use, and the decorations, it is easier to tell that Ethiopia is trying its best to take Pan-Africanism to a different level.

“Proud to be African”, “Africa deserves a permanent representation at the United Nations Security Council”, “We aspire for a continent united” are some of the messages contained on the banners in various parts of the city..

Ethiopia has always been at the core of Pan-Africanism. However, it seems the pressure from Western countries, due to the war in Tigray, has pushed the country not only to take refuge in Pan-Africanism but will do what it takes to take Pan-Africanism to a whole new level.

The recent call for the need for Africa to have a seat in the UNSC by Abiy, and other African and non-African leaders including the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan might be a case in point.

Although Ethiopia seems to be upholding Pan-Africanism, the war and the ethnic animosity and religious tensions are shaking the country to its core.

The 35th AU Summit

The AU leader’s summit will kick off on Saturday with an opening statement from Mhammet Mousa Faki, chairperson of the AU Commission, followed by Abiy and other dignitaries including the outgoing chairman of the AU, DRC’s President, Antoine Tshisekedi and UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres.

The two-day session of the African Leaders Summit will convene under the theme, “Building Resilience in Nutrition on the African Continent: Accelerate the Human Capital, Social and Economic Development.”

The Summit will also discuss a host of issues including the financing of the Union and the Scale of Assessment and Contributions for member states; African Candidatures within the International System including the UNSC, the Implementation of Agenda 2063; the Institutional Reforms and others.

The state of Peace and Security in Africa, the report and follow-up discussion on the need to reform the UNSC, the election of the 15 members of the Peace and Security Council, and the debate on the need for granting Israel an observer status to the AU, will be on the agenda, according to diplomatic sources.

The Summit will also elect the President of Senegal, Macky Sall, as the new chairperson of the AU, replacing the outgoing Tshisekedi.

Several Presidents from various African countries, including the Presidents from Gambia, Senegal, Nigeria, Mali, Ivory Coast, Mauritania and South Sudan have already arrived in Addis Ababa.