African leaders arrive in Ethiopia for AU summit

Addis Ababa- Ethiopia (PANA) -- African leaders have started arriving in Ethiopia Saturday for the 31 Jan-2 Feb African Union (AU) summit, devoted to the development of information and communi cation technology (ICT) on the continent.
Among the early arrivals were Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika, who is vyin g for the AU chairmanship with incumbent Libyan leader Mouamar Gaddafi, who has also arrived.
The three-day summit, which begins Sunday, seeks to forge common policies in Afr ica on the development and use of ICT to power African economic growth.
As world economies globalise, ICT has become critical, yet Africa lags far too b ehind other continents in both development and use of ICT.
It is in view of this that the latest edition of the AU summit has been devoted to ICT development, to come up with a common strategy, and try and close the gap with other continents in ICT.
"In today's global knowledge economy and information-driven society, economic su ccess is increasingly based on the effective utilisation of intangible assets such as knowledge, skills and innovative potent ial as key resources for competitive advantage," Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) executive secretary Abdoulie Janneh said ah ead of the summit.
"ICTs can improve performance of businesses and the efficiency of markets, while empowering citizens and communities and increasing their access to knowledge.
I therefore salute African leaders for their choice o f theme," he added.
Janneh said ICTs 'provide several opportunities for our countries, for instance, as mobile phone usage expands, it will facilitate health, commerce, trading, and financial services such as m-banking and m-payments.
' Meanwhile, the early arrival of the two contestants for the chairmanship of the 53-member organisation signifies the fact that the contest will be keen, hence the need for the leaders to start their lobby early.
But AU Commission chairperson Jean Ping told PANA here Friday that he expected t he contest to be resolved through compromise.
Under the AU's rotational rule for the chairmanship, it is the turn of southern Africa - where Malawi belongs - to take over from north Africa.
But Gaddafi is understood to want to run for a second term.
Southern Africa has collectively endorsed Malawi's candidature, and is expected to lobby strongly for Bingu wa Mutharika.

30 january 2010 08:02:00




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