Ministerial Retreat of the Executive Council of the African Union Commission kicked off today (January 24) in Mekelle under the theme of “Implementation of Agenda 2063”. The President of the Tigray Regional State, Abay Woldu delivered welcome remarks during the official opening of the retreat. Ato Abay said, “The vision of our Union that aims to create an ‘integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa’, and indeed the agenda of this retreat, has significant meaning to this region of Ethiopia. He said, “This is a region where 2000 years ago was the home of the Axumite Kingdom… This is also a region where, an indigenous African force defeated a European Colonial power for the first time in modern history.” At Abay added, “I hope the greatness of Axum and the indomitable African spirit that triumphed in Adowa will continue to inspire us in our struggle against global injustice.” Dr. Tedros Adhanom, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, mentioning how important such ministerial retreats are to the implementation of Agenda 2063, disclosed the programs to be convened in the next sessions from January 24-26 as; updates on Agenda 2063 Ten Year Implementation Plan, its domestication and flagship projects as well as the accountability framework, status of free movement of people and the state of the African tourism sector, among other issues of relevance to the development and integration of the continent. Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission in her remarks, congratulated the people of the city of Mekelle for hosting this important Pan-African gathering and recalled the core responsibilities of the executive council at Bahir Dar; mechanization of agriculture, silencing the gun, youth unemployment, effective management and the beneficiation of African resources to affect transformation, inclusive growth and industrialization, effective and visionary leadership with political commitment, accelerated regional integration and accountability. Similarly, in his opening statement the Chairperson of the Executive Council of the AUC and Foreign Minister of Zimbabwe, Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, stressed on the significance of a single aviation market and conservation of the flora and fauna of Africa to realize the implementation of agenda 2063. The Ministerial Retreat which was proposed by the Ethiopian government made its inaugural meeting in Bahir Dar in January 2014.