Building of Africa
The 18th Ordinary Session of the African Union Assembly is taking place under the theme: "Boosting Intra-African Trade" from 29 to 30 January 2012 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The Summit is reflecting on the recommendations of the 7th Ordinary Session of the African Union Conference of Ministers of Trade which was charged with the task of preparing the ground work for discussions around the theme, "Boosting Intra-African Trade".
The high-level political discussions centred on issues relating to continental integration and intra-African trade. Given the increased prominence of African peace and security issues on the world stage, the Summit is also focussing on key peace and security issues, as well as matters pertaining to post-conflict reconstruction.
Also featuring prominently during this year's Summit was the election for the Chairperson of the AU Commission (AUC). After three rounds of fierce competition on 30 January, none of the two candidates - incumbent AUC Chairperson Jean Ping and South African Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma - managed to clinch the required two-thirds of votes. The AUC then decided to suspend the election. The election of the Chairperson has been postponed to July at the next AU summit.
The closed-door voting was held in the conference hall of the newly inaugurated AU Conference Centre.
Construction of the new AU headquarters began in February 2009 and was completed on schedule in December 2011. The contractor was the China State Construction Engineering Corporation, and about 1,200 Chinese and Ethiopian workers were involved in the construction work. The building consists of a circular conference hall, alongside which is a 27 storey tower for the organisation’s offices. The tower is 100 metres high, which makes it the tallest building in Addis Ababa. The building cost 200 million US dollars, and is a donation from the Chinese government.
SA Scientist wins AU award
The African Union Commission announced the winners of the Kwame Nkrumah Scientific Award during the opening of the 18th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the AU. On behalf of the government and the people of South Africa HE President Jacob Zuma has congratulated Professor Maryke Labuschagne for winning the Kwame Nkrumah Scientific Award for Life and Earth Sciences. The award is worth $100 000. Prof Labuschagne is a Professor in Plant Breeding at University of the Free State, South Africa.