By Prudence Arobani
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has lauded the African Union Commission for its efforts at Africa’s integration and described it as “a force for good”.
Tillerson, currently on tour of some African countries made the commendation when he met with the Chairperson of the AU Commission, Mr Moussa Mahamat, at the Commission’s headquarters in Addis Ababa.
He said he was in Africa ‘to listen”.
Tillerson said: “The purpose of my trip to this continent is to listen. I think it is important that we listen to what the priorities of the countries.
“And see where there is good alignment between their priorities and our areas of greatest interest as well. And I think we’ve already found there are many”.
He applauded the Africa Centres for Disease Control for its success in tracking and responding to disease outbreaks on the continent.
He added that aside health security, the continent now enjoy national security, economic development and political stability.
On trade, Tillerson said U.S. supported AU’s economic regional integration efforts to lower intra-trade barriers on the continent and boost more intra-regional trade.
He said U.S. appreciated AU’s very strong statements on South Sudan at the recent AU summit, adding that U.S. truly calls on all parties to abide by the cessation of hostilities and be open to compromise for the good of the South Sudanese people.
Tillerson commended the AU’s Mission in Somalia, saying it is clearly an example of countries coming together to counter terrorism, promote stability, and enable delivery of much-needed aid to the Somali people.
He also discussed ways to ensure the G5 Sahel forces have the necessary resources to continue their fight against terrorism,
Also discussed was how to put in place, more sustainable funding models, and future plans to fight against terrorism in the Sahel region.
Tillerson said fighting corruption was another area of common cause between Africa and U.S. and said: “We’re very pleased to see that the African Union has named 2018 as the year for winning the fight against corruption.’’
“From high-level secret deals to petty bribes on the street, corruption really does steal the precious resources from job creators and entrepreneurs and others who would promote benefits to the greater society and to the citizens of those countries.
“Good governance and transparency are essential to creating the conditions for economic growth and prosperity, and we look forward to continuing our joint efforts with the African Union to improve the business environment on the continent.
“But transparency really is an essential requirement for good business conditions and will attract greater investment and economic activity as well.
“That includes supporting greater intra- and global-trade investments in Africa as the environment creates competitive conditions,” he stressed.
Tillerson reiterated U.S. desire for more African nations to apply concrete diplomatic and economic pressure on North Korea, especially the support for global maximum pressure campaign.
Mahamat, in his remarks, said his discussions with the U.S. envoy was fruitful, and noted that the visit was taking place at a time when Africa was firmly embarking on the path to integration and reform.
“We informed him of our efforts aimed at establishing a market of more than a billion people, and to stress that a strong AU is in the interest, not only of the continent, but that of our partners also, including the U.S.
“We have agreed to work for the strengthening of the trade and commercial relations between Africa and the U.S., including the post-AGOA – the African Growth and Opportunity Act,” he said.
Mahamat said they also talked about some conflict situations faced by the continent, and the best way the U.S. could support the African efforts in order to promote peace and security.
He said they underscored the importance of non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons, calling for the scrupulous observance and compliance with international instruments.