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President Michael D. Higgins to travel to Senegal

Date: Fri 20th Jan, 2023 | 14:23

The President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, will travel to the Republic of Senegal next week to attend the Dakar 2 Summit, to which he has been invited to give one of the opening addresses by the President of Senegal and current Chairperson of the African Union, Macky Sall, and the President of the African Development Bank, Dr Akinwumi Adesina.

Under the theme ‘Feed Africa: Food Sovereignty and Resilience’, the Summit opens on Wednesday 25th January and will run to Friday 27th, with the President invited to address both the opening and closing sessions. The Summit will bring together an expected 25 African Heads of State and Government, Government Ministers and Governors of Central Banks, as well as multilateral organisations, NGOs, private sector stakeholders, academics and scientists.

The invite to President Higgins to address the Summit was in recognition of his decades-long commitment to the issue of food security on the continent of Africa, and his continuing engagement and writing on the topic.

The President was particularly pleased to accept the invitation in light of its focus on the measures seen as urgent, but also structural, which need to be taken to reorient policies towards methods which can in a sustainable and transformative way address what are the greatest current challenges facing the world in the form of food insecurity, food sustainability and famine, taking account of the impact of COVID-19 and the consequences of climate change.

Last July, the President received Dr Adesina on a courtesy call at Áras an Uachtaráin for an extensive discussion on related issues, and in the months since he has stayed in touch with those working in the field, continuing to draw attention to the importance of addressing the structural factors that are causing food insecurity and repeated cycles of famine in Africa.

At events such as the annual meeting of the Arraiolos Group of non-executive European Presidents, his address to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in October, and in an op-ed on the eve of the COP27 summit in November, the structural issues to which the President has repeatedly drawn attention include monopolies in production and distribution, the role of multilateral institutions, issues of international debt and trade, and conflict sourced in climate change.

The President will deliver two addresses at the Summit – an opening address entitled “To Make a New Journey of Sufficiency – From Our Origin, Africa” and a closing speech entitled “Going Forward with Best Approaches”.

In addition to these addresses, the President will hold a number of bilateral meetings at the Summit with fellow Heads of State, as well as with the President of the African Development Bank and the President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development.  He will also attend a number of events hosted by individual Heads of State on the development of food and agriculture delivery compacts for their countries.

In advance of his attendance at the Summit, the President will visit the Palais Présidentiel for a bilateral meeting with President Sall and also travel to Gorée Island where he will receive a guided tour of ‘La Maison des Esclaves’.

Gorée Island, the first UNESCO World Heritage Site in Africa, was a key slave-trading centre on the African coast from the 15th to 19th Century. ‘La Maison des Escalves’ and its Door of No Return is a museum and memorial dedicated to the victims of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, with previous visitors including President Nelson Mandela, Pope John Paul II and President Barack Obama.