Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi took up the chairmanship of the 55-member African Union (AU) from Rwandan leader, Paul Kagame at its 32nd ordinary session in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Sunday.
During his tenure, el-Sissi is expected to concentrate on security and financial reform, but with no great plans to strengthen the AU’s multilateral powers.
Instead, the focus is expected to be on combating illegal immigration while Egypt presents itself as a model for hosting refugees.
The summit has been titled: “Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons” presented within a security context.
The Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) was approved by 44 of 55 member states last March. If ratified, it would become the largest free trade area since the World Trade Organization was set up in 1995.
The CFTA would see tariffs removed from 90 percent of goods and could boost trade within the continent by 52 percent within three years, according to the UN.
The free trade area will come into effect once ratified by 22 of the signatory states. As of February, 19 states had ratified the agreement.
Nigeria is one of the continent’s economic powerhouses staying outside the CFTA, with President Muhammadu Buhari concerned it may hurt Nigerian entrepreneurship and industry.