Communiqué on the visit of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission to West Africa

June 06, 2018

Communiqué on the visit of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission to West Africa

Addis Ababa, 6 June 2018: The Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, undertook a visit to West Africa from 27 to 31 May 2018, which took him successively to Togo, Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. He was received by Presidents Faure Gnassingbé, in Lomé, on 28 May; Nana Dankwa Akufo-Addo, in Accra, on 30 May; and Alassane Ouattara, in Abidjan, on 31 May 2018. This visit is part of his regular interactions with Heads of State and Government of the Member States on issues related to the implementation of the continental agenda.
The evolution of the integration process on the continent featured prominently in the discussions with the three Heads of State. The Chairperson of the Commission welcomed the signing by Togo, Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire of the Agreement on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the Protocol on Free Movement of Persons and the African Passport at the Extraordinary Summit held in Kigali on 21 March 2018. He congratulated Ghana on being, along with Kenya, one of the first two Member States to deposit its instrument of ratification of the Free Trade Area Agreement. Presidents Faure Gnassingbé and Alassane Ouattara reaffirmed the long-standing commitment of their respective countries to African integration and informed the Chairperson of the Commission about the ongoing measures to ratify the Agreement on the Free Trade Area. The process of ratification of the Protocol on Free Movement of Persons has, already, been initiated in Ghana.

The Chairperson of the Commission referred to another aspect of the integration efforts, linked to the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM), launched at the January 2018 Ordinary Summit. Togo, Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire are members of the SAATM, the effective implementation of which will result in a multiplication of routes and greater fare competitiveness, with a positive impact on tourism, investment and trade.
The Chairperson of the Commission thanked President Faure Gnassingbé for accepting to be the Champion of this initiative and agreed with him and other stakeholders on the actions to be taken to support the implementation of his mandate. It should be noted that the Chairperson of the Commission also participated in the 4th meeting of the Ministerial Group on the SAATM, in Lomé, organised by the Commission and the Government of the Togolese Republic. At that meeting, a number of measures were agreed upon, including the dissemination of the regulatory and institutional legal instruments relating to the Yamoussoukro Decision, the establishment of a panel of legal experts to finalise the Interim Dispute Settlement Guidelines, and the signing by the States Parties to the Memorandum of Implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision.

The exchange of views with Presidents Faure Gnassingbé, Akufo-Addo and Ouattara also focused on the forthcoming negotiations on the successor arrangements to the Cotonou Partnership Agreement of June 2000 between the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States and the European Union (EU), against the backdrop of the Common Position adopted by the AU Executive Council in March 2018, in Kigali.

Furthermore, the Chairperson of the Commission also addressed issues related to peace and security in the West African region. He paid tribute to the Heads of State met for their commitment, as evidenced by the dynamism of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in promoting peace and security. In this context, he reiterated the support of the AU to the efforts of Presidents Akuffo-Addo and Alpha Condé in assisting the Togolese political stakeholders find a consensual solution to the situation prevailing in their country. President Faure Gnassingbé informed him of the evolution of the situation and assured him of his determination to fully play his role in the search for a way out of the crisis.

With regard to the situation in Guinea-Bissau, the Chairperson of the Commission expressed to President Faure Gnassingbé, in his capacity as the Current Chairperson of ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, his satisfaction with the recent positive developments in that country. The AU has actively supported the efforts of the region, including by endorsing, through its Peace and Security Council, the sanctions imposed by ECOWAS. Similarly, the threat posed by terrorism to regional security, particularly in the Sahel belt, was raised. President Akufo-Addo and the Chairperson of the Commission stressed the need to take full advantage of the expertise of institutions such as the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre, to enhance the capacity of Africa to address the challenges of peace and security. The defence of African positions in the United Nations Security Council, including the issue of sustainable and predictable funding for peacekeeping operations undertaken by the AU, was also discussed with President Ouattara, bearing in mind that Côte d’Ivoire seats in the Council, which it would chair in December 2018.
The Chairperson of the Commission informed his interlocutors about the state of implementation of the institutional reform of the AU, as agreed in Addis Ababa at the January 2017 Ordinary Summit. He indicated that the Nouakchott Summit of July 2018 would provide an opportunity to set new milestones in this regard and to strengthen the African consensus on the issue, mentioning, in this regard, the meeting in Addis Ababa, on 26 May 2018, of the Group of Fifteen Ministers of Foreign Affairs established by the January 2018 Summit to support the reform process. He thanked the three Heads of State for their support for the reform, including the achievement of the financial autonomy of the Union. It should be noted that Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana are already applying the 0.2% levy on eligible imports, as agreed in Kigali, in July 2016.

During their meeting, President Ouattara and the Chairperson of the Commission discussed the implementation of Agenda 2063. President Ouattara is the Champion appointed by his peers to follow up this matter. The aim was to consider the best ways and means to ensure more effective popularisation of Agenda 2063 and greater ownership by African Governments and citizens, in support of the action of the Ministerial Committee set up for this purpose.
The Chairperson of the Commission also discussed issues related to gender equality and women empowerment. In this regard, he thanked President Akufo-Addo for his work in this area, in his capacity as the Champion.
Finally, the Chairperson of the Commission informed his interlocutors about the preparations underway for the successful organisation of the Nouakchott Summit, and exchanged views with them on the issues that should engage the attention of the Summit.