ADDIS ABABA, Jan. 27 (Xinhua) -- The heads of state and government of African countries gathered here on Sunday at the 20th African Union (AU) summit to find solutions for a more secured and prospecting African continent.
Under the theme of "Pan-Africanism and African Renassaince", the summit at Ethiopian's capital city of Addis Ababa is set to discuss a wide range of political and economic issues, conflicts and crisis facing the continent.
Dlamini-Zuma, chairperson of the AU Commission, said at the opening ceremony that Africa is at point where it must seize the opportunity to fast track its economic development
She said Africa is well endowed with natural resources which are critical components in fast tracking industrialization on the continent.
"Africa time has arrived and we can achieve our dream within fifty years, or even less," she said.
She reiterated Africa must remain united if it is to achieve its desired goals and pull millions of people out of poverty.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, said, "Africa has the experience to forge solutions to its own challenges and contribute to our global goals of inclusive growth, social justice and protecting our environment."
African countries should make more efforts to empower youth and women and give them responsibilities of driving economic growth and peace.
Ban also talked about conflicts and crisis in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Central African Republic (CAR), Mali, South Sudan, Sudan, Guinea-Bissau and Somalia.
"Mali is under threat from extremist armed insurgence. I welcomed the timely bilateral assistance to the Malian army in response to the government's request," Ban pointed out.
Found in 1963, the AU will embrace its 50th anniversary this year.
Aimed at building a partnership between governments and all segments of civil society, the AU has committed to strengthening solidarity and cohesion among the peoples of Africa.
The AU has 54 member states, and its newest member state is South Sudan who became independent on July 9, 2011. Major organs of the AU include the Assembly, the Executive Council, and the Pan- African Parliament and the Commission.
Before the summit, the Permanent Representatives of the African Union (AU) member states held their 25th ordinary session on Jan. 21-22.
Foreign ministers of member states also met on Jan. 24-25 for the 22nd Ordinary Session of the Executive Council, which is followed by the summit of AU heads of state and government, or the AU Assembly, on Sunday and Monday.