ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA (THE NATION)--After discussing the January 15 terrorist attack at the dusitD2 complex in Nairobi , where Al-Shabaab militants killed 21 people, President Uhuru Kenyatta and other world leaders vowed on Sunday to never allow terrorism to distabilise any country in Africa.
President Kenyatta and other Heads of State and government are attending the 32nd African Union (AU) summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Newly elected AU chairman, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, and Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), said terrorism should be eradicated and its sponsors identified and shamed.
The Egyptian leader described the scourge of terrorism as a cancer that continues to affect African nations and destroy important structures.
“There is need to identify the sponsors of terrorism and address its root causes while putting counter terrorism measures in place,” the new chairman said in his acceptance speech that also marked the official opening of the summit.
The PLO leader called on the world to reject all forms of terrorism, including the religious kind.
“We are ready to fight terrorism and extremism in all our capitals. We should all abhor all forms of terrorism and extremism,” Mr Abbas said.
Another key issue discussed at the summit was commitment by African leaders to silence all guns in the continent by 2020.
They also noted the new Africa where democratic elections and peaceful transitions have replaced political takeovers and the resultant turmoil.
Several countries including Somalia, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Eritrea, DR Congo, the Central African Republic and Libya were recognised for choosing peace and initiating dialogue to resolve conflicts in their countries.
Progress made towards the ratification of the African continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA) was also praised as a major step forward and more countries were encouraged to sign up to the pact.
Outgoing AU chairman and Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who chaired the session, said the ACFTA protocol, signed less than one year ago, has just a few weeks to get into full force.
Among other objectives, the summit explored durable solutions to the issue of refugees in African nations.
The theme for this year’s summit was "Refugees, Returnees and the Internally Displaced Persons: Towards Durable Solutions to Forced Displacement in Africa".
President Kagame said the agenda of the meeting reflected the capacity of the AU to address an increasingly complex range of challenges and priorities.
While calling on African countries to increase domestic funding for health programmes, the Rwandan President acknowledged the tremendous progress countries have made, such as Kenya's plan for universal health coverage and Managed Equipment Services for expanded healthcare.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres noted that Africa hosts a third of the world’s refugees and internally displaced persons.
“Africa has set the gold standard for solidarity. Its generosity is unmatched,” the UN chief observed.
World Health Organization Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom, the first African to head the world body, said the continent can achieve much more with unity.
For the continent to thrive, Dr Tedros said, it must take its rightful position in the world by initiating smart investments in health and education.
He called for more investment especially in primary healthcare.
The WHO boss further said the establishment of the proposed African Medicines Agency will ensure reliable and safe supply and stop the proliferation of falsified medicines.
Microsoft boss Bill Gates, whose Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has invested heavily in Africa's health, education and agriculture sectors, said the AU can achieve its ambitions by investing in human capital.
Mr Gates said every dollar invested in Africa by his foundation has a major social impact so he will carry on with his initiatives.
Other speakers included African Union Commission chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat and Fifa President Gianni Infantino.
Earlier, President Kenyatta and First Lady Margaret Kenyatta joined other leaders for the unveiling of the statue of former Emperor Haile Selassie outside the AU headquarters.
The only other statue at the AU is that of Ghana’s founding father Kwame Nkrumah, who is recognised for his instrumental role in the establishment of the AU's predecessor, the Organization of African Unity.