36th African Union Summit in Addis Ababa
From last Friday to Sunday, the 36th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) took place in Addis Ababa. Spread over two days, the agenda focused on issues of peace and security and food security. According to UN estimates, armed conflicts as well as climate-related environmental disasters led to 44 million internally displaced persons on the continent in 2022, almost 6 million more than in the previous year. Conflicts in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo and in the Sahel or the drought in Somalia were correspondingly high on the agenda. For example, at a meeting of the East African Community held during the summit, all armed groups in eastern Congo were called upon to cease all hostilities by the end of next month. On food security, the AU backed the outcome of the Dakar Summit in January this year, which has already mobilised $36 billion in less than a month to increase agricultural and food production. The topics of trade and the accelerated implementation of the African Free Trade Area also dominated the meeting of the AU, which has proclaimed the motto “The Year of AfCFTA: Acceleration of the African Continental Free Trade Area Implementation” for 2023. Various initiatives are to be launched via the secretariat of the free trade area, including the Pan African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS), which is to enable immediate payment in national currency and thus facilitate border trade. In addition, the status of the AU’s institutional reforms as well as the first 10-year plan of Agenda 2063, the design of the Second Decade of Agenda 2063 implementation and how to deal with unconstitutional governments also played a role. Thus, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali and Sudan remain suspended from the AU until further notice. Finally, Senegal’s President Macky Sall, who had led the AU since February 2022, handed over the chairmanship to the President of the Union of the Comoros, Azali Assoumani. This is the first time that the federal island state has held the chairmanship of the AU. Meanwhile, the exclusion of an Israeli delegation from the summit caused a minor diplomatic scandal, which the AU justified with Israel’s still unresolved observer status. The Israeli foreign ministry accused South Africa and Algeria in particular of being behind this decision.
Federal Minister of Labour and Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development travel to Ghana
The Federal Minister of Labour, Hubertus Heil, and the Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Svenja Schulze, travelled to Accra, Ghana, last Monday. During their meetings with Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Adoo, various ministers and the Director-General of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Gilbert Houngbo, they presented plans for more managed labour migration to Germany and spoke of a “paradigm shift in German migration policy”. The new immigration strategy includes measures to make it easier for skilled workers from non-EU countries to enter the country and to speed up the recognition of their certificates. A corresponding law is currently being prepared. This is intended to counteract the increasing shortage of skilled workers in Germany. The German and Ghanaian economies would benefit equally from the new immigration policy, said Federal Labour Minister Heil. He reiterated that it was not Germany’s aim to withdraw skilled workers from Ghana, but to allow skilled workers to enter the country based on connections to Germany or previous professional experience. According to the German minister, there is a surplus of well-educated people in Ghana who cannot find work in their country. During their visit to the West African country, Schulze and Heil also gave the go-ahead for the expansion of the German-Ghanaian Centre for Jobs, Migration and Reintegration, which has existed since 2017. So far, the centre’s main task has been to help Ghanaians who have recently returned from Germany to start their own businesses. Ghanaian Social Affairs Minister Lariba Abudu praised the good bilateral relations between Ghana and Germany and reiterated the commitment of the Ghanaian Ministry of Development to invest 10 million euros in the promotion of education and employment over the next three years. The training and advisory services of the centre will be supported with 10 million euros over a period of three years by the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). It is part of the BMZ initiative Centres for Migration and Development, which envisages a total of nine countries and will be funded with 150 million euros over the next three years. In addition, the European Union has pledged to invest 6 million euros in the Ghanaian-European Centre for Jobs, Migration and Development.
In Benin, entrepreneur Roland Adjovi has found a way to meet the ever-increasing demand for cooking fuel in a sustainable way and thus contribute to slowing down the destruction of forests for charcoal production. For example, his company Eco Sika, founded in 2017, uses agricultural waste to make charcoal briquettes. Adjovi and his team collect, sort and dry organic waste such as maize leaves, banana or pineapple peels, burn them into charred powder that is then made into briquettes, and sell them in large and small quantities. A report last year by the United Nations Environment Programme said innovations like these are urgently needed to prevent the destruction of forests and loss of biodiversity in Africa, where about 60% of the world’s charcoal is produced. Similar projects exist in Ethiopia, Cameroon, Kenya and Tanzania, according to the report.