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Deputy Chairperson Mwencha meets with the USA bipartisan congressional delegation led by chairman Ed Royce

By African Union Commission (AUC)
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A delegation of USA Congressmen led by Chairman Ed Royce was received by H.E Erastus Mwencha, Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC), on 17 January 2016 at the headquarters of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The meeting took place in the presence of Dr. Anthony Mothae Maruping, AUC Commissioner for Economic Affairs and Mr. Bam from the Department of Peace and Security of the AUC and Ambassador Susan D. Page is the U.S. Chargé d' Affaires to the African Union.

Welcoming the Chairman Ed Royce along side ranking member of Congress, Hon. Eliot Engel and other eminent members of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the USA Bipartisan Congress at the AU Headquarters, Deputy Chairperson Mwencha said the visit is another eloquent testimony of the importance the USA attaches to AU-US strategic partnership.

The Deputy Chairperson reminded Chairman Royce of his meeting at the U.S Congressional International Conservation Gala in Washington, DC and the pleasure he had to present to him on September 18, 2013, the Teddy Roosevelt International Conservation Award, in honor of his longstanding commitment to Africa's partnership with the United States, and to the sustainable management of Africa's tremendous natural wealth. Worth recalling that, Chairman Royce is a strong advocate of wildlife conservation.

Deputy Chairperson further conveyed his gratitude to members of Congress for the bipartisan support that Africa has enjoyed over the years within the U.S Congress, including the period of struggle for independence. He highlighted the longstanding ties that link Africa to the United States and the contributions made by the Legislative Branch to the economic growth and development of the continent exhibited through various initiatives focused on agriculture, trade, health and the fight against the Ebola epidemic.

The AUC Deputy Chairperson commended the members of Congress for their support in the extension of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) for ten years, while underscoring that in order for Africa to take advantage of this preferential trade program, it needs to transform its economies through industrialization and production of more competitive products for exports. “The effective and strategic implementation of the AGOA Legislation and the provision of the appropriate and targeted technical assistance and trade capacity to AGOA eligible countries. The main challenge we have to meet today is how AGOA develops its full potential as an engine of intra-regional integration” noted the Deputy Chairperson. He explained that the AGOA was efficiently used as an instrument for Africa to leapfrog in terms of skills development, technological advancement and job creation. In this regard, the Deputy Chairperson underscored the need to sustain the cooperation with the U.S. Congress with the view to support AGOA countries in developing utilization strategies, in accordance with the legislation, among others.

Issues of peace, prosperity and stability, in the continent, health, wild life conservation, climate change , women and girls education, and the skill revolution were also raised during the discussion as well as the strides made by Africa in the areas of democracy, governance, human rights and regional economic integration, under the leadership of the AU Commission. In this vein, Deputy Chairperson Mwencha highlighted the aspirations of Africa for next fifty years and the alignment and convergence between Agenda 2063 and UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. “The AU is looking forward to working with the United States, as one of our key strategic partners, to mobilize sustained support for Africa's strategic framework for transformational development”, underlined the AUC Deputy Chairperson.

Given that the visit of the US Congressmen came at the time when the Commission is bracing up ahead of the 26th AU Summit scheduled for 21-31 January 2016, Deputy Chairperson Mwencha seize this opportunity to inform the Congressional delegation on the Summit theme on human rights with a particular focus on the rights of women, and that important commitments and decisions will be taken on a wide range of issues.

The US Congressmen expressed satisfaction on the existing cooperation ties between the USA and Africa in the different sectors of development. They underscored the willingness of their Government to strengthen the ability of the African Union to maintain peace and security; realize democracy and governance across the Continent as well as create new market opportunities, implement regional infrastructure, and support in building productive capacities in Africa.

The head of the US delegation, Chairman Royce, informed the AUC Deputy Chairperson that their visit is as a follow-up of the visit of US President Obama to the African Union Headquarters last year. He indicated that the strong partnership between the African Union and the United States holds so much promise for a more fruitful and productive relationship and that this will continue to develop as both parties engage actively on areas of mutual interest and concern.

Chairman Royce underscored the need to further promote and reinforce the cooperation between the African Union and the U.S. on peace and security, democracy and governance, economic growth, trade and investment and the promotion of opportunity and development.