Between the 17-20 April 2023, ACCORD partnered with the African Union Southern Africa Regional Office (AU-SARO), the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) and the University of Johannesburg (UJ) to host the AU Model Summit. This was the first time that the event was hosted in South Africa. Under the theme, “Year of AfCFTA: Acceleration of the African Continental Free Trade Area implementation”, the summit followed the format of a simulation exercise involving over 200 undergraduate students from UJ. Students were organised into the various member states of the AU and spent the three days assuming the roles of presidents and ministers of their respective allocated states. In doing so, they were given the opportunity to articulate their policy positions related to the theme. The Model Summit offered an important opportunity for capacity building to sensitize the youth on African continental integration. The students participated in a three-day training course on the various procedures and processes on African Union (AU) policy and decision-making and had the opportunity to engage in the work of ACCORD through a presentation made by ACCORD Researcher, Dr Andrea Prah, on Day 2.
The event sought to inspire the youth to take ownership of the AU and its programmes including Agenda 2063 and the African Youth Charter. Through the simulation exercise, students were invited to take up an advocacy role in their respective member states in order to promote and support Governments in popularization, implementation and domestication of AU policies.
The simulated AU Model Summit took place on 20 April 2023 in the form of a hybrid event. The opening session featured opening remarks from Dr Nolita Vukusa, Senior Executive Director of University Relations (UJ) and H.E Ambassador David Claude Pierre (AU Permanent Representative to Southern Africa, COMESA and SADC). Other high-level speakers included Honorable Fortune Charumbira, President of the Pan African Parliament; H.E Mr. Ibrahima Cheikh Diong, United Nations Assistant Secretary General and Director General – African Risk Capacity Group; as well as Mr Amanuel Desalegne from the FES-AU Cooperation Office.
ACCORD’s Founder and Executive Director, Dr Vasu Gounden, also addressed the simulated Summit where he urged the students to embrace the opportunity presented by the Summit and in doing so, to learn and grow their leadership skills especially in the context of a new world that needs astute leaders.