IRISH President Michael D Higgins has begun an official visit to the Republic of Senegal.
The President travelled to Senegal at the invitation of the President of Senegal and current Chairperson of the African Union, Mackey Sall, and the President of the African Development Bank, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, to deliver both an opening and closing address at the Dakar 2 Summit, ‘Feed Africa: Food Sovereignty and Resilience’, which is taking place from Wednesday to Friday this week.
Mr Higgins is being accompanied on the visit by his wife Sabina and the Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs with special responsibility for International Development and Diaspora, Seán Fleming.
This morning, the President will hold a bilateral meeting with President Sall in the Palais Présidentiel in Dakar.
At their meeting, the two Heads of State are expected to discuss a range of topics relevant to the conference, including structural issues surrounding food security, climate change and climate justice, desertification, human rights, empowering women, and the importance of multilateral institutions in achieving these goals.
The President will also “convey the deepest sympathies of the people of Ireland to President Sall following the significant loss of life in two major road traffic accidents in Kaffrine and Louga earlier this month”, his office confirms.
Following his meeting with President Sall, President Higgins will travel to Gorée Island, where he will be accompanied by the Mayor of Gorée Island, Augustin Senghor, on a guided tour of the ‘Maison des Esclaves’ from the Curator of the Museum, Eloi Coly, and the Director of the Gorée Institute, Doudou Dia.
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.
Later this week, the President will deliver two addresses at the Dakar 2 Summit – an opening address on Wednesday entitled “To Make a New Journey of Sufficiency – From Our Origin, Africa” and a closing speech on Friday entitled “Going Forward with Best Approaches”.
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.
At the end of the Summit, it is expected that commitments will be made by Heads of States to Food and Agriculture Delivery Compacts to achieve zero hunger, as well as financing frameworks for them.
In addition to his speeches, President Higgins will hold a number of bilateral meetings at the Summit with fellow Heads of State, including the President of Nigeria Muhammadu Buhari and the President of Sierra Leone Julius Maada Bio, as well as with the President of the African Development Bank Dr Akinwumi Adesina and the President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development Alvaro Lario.
He will also attend a number of events hosted by individual Heads of State on the development of the Food and Agriculture Delivery Compacts for their countries.