High on the agenda of the summit is the continent's infrastructure development. The first day of the summit is dedicated to a special session on Africa's Union Government, meant to seek the integration of the African continent.
African leaders will on Sunday to discuss Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's long-standing project to establish a United States of Africa.
The summit's opening ceremony will be staged on Monday, attended by AU Commission Chairman Jean Ping, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the League of Arab States Amr Moussa and several African heads of state.
A 2007 summit in Ghana, devoted to it, ended with no deal because of opposition, delegates.
Gaddafi, one of the continent's longest-serving leaders, has for years pressed for a federal pan-regional government, saying that it is essential to meet the challenges of globalization, fight poverty and resolve conflicts without Western intervention.
Some leaders, including Senegal's Abdoulaye Wade, are keen on the idea. Erastus Mwencha, deputy chairman of the African Union (AU) Commission, said the first day of the February 1-3 summit would focus on Gaddafi's proposal.
"I remain optimistic that yes, it will be a reality," he told reporters ahead of the meeting. "The question we are discussing is not whether it will be a reality, but when, and how." Commission chairman Jean Ping said recently views on the speed of integration varied from nine to 35 years, but the continent needed to speak with a united voice to be heard in international negotiations on trade and other issues including climate change.
All 53 AU member states agree in principle with the goal of continental integration. But some -- led by South Africa -- say it must be a "gradual process".
The official theme of this week's summit at AU headquarters in Addis Ababa is boosting infrastructure, which experts say is essential if Africa is to weather the global financial crisis.
Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, a pro-deal Islamist leader, is attending the talks after he was sworn in as Somalia's new president at talks in Djibouti.
He is attending the summit in the very country whose powerful army ousted him as leader of a sharia courts movement that briefly ruled Mogadishu and much of southern Somalia in 2006.
Ethiopia's troops withdrew from Somalia last month, ending its occupation.
AU officials say Mauritania and Guinea, which both suffered military coups in recent months, were excluded from the summit.
AgenciesLast Mod: 01 Şubat 2009, 20:07