President Jacob Zuma will be leading the South African delegation to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for the 28th Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU).

The four-day summit, which starts on Saturday Jan 28, will be held under the theme Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investment in the Youth, the Presidency said.

On Sunday Jan 29, there will be a retreat of AU Heads of State and Government. They will use the retreat to consider a report to be presented by President Paul Kagame of Rwanda on institutional reforms of the AU aimed at enhancing the continental body's governance systems.

The report, according to the Presidency, was commissioned at the last AU Summit held in Kigali. The former governor of the South African Reserve Bank, Tito Mboweni, was appointed as one of the experts who assisted President Kagame with the project.

Among other things, the assembly will consider and deliberate on reports focusing on the state of peace and security on the continent and the African Peer Review Mechanism and climate change.

The assembly will also consider the 2016 Annual Report of the AU Commission, which is expected to focus on the implementation and domestication of Agenda 2063, economic integration, the continental passport as well as peace support and peace-keeping missions, the Presidency said.

Furthermore, the assembly will get to elect the new Chairperson of the AU Commission, Deputy Chair and eight Commissioners.

The extended term of office of the incumbent, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, comes to an end after four and a half years at the helm.

Morocco's application to be considered

The summit will also consider the application by Morocco to become the AU's 55th Member State.

Morocco withdrew from the AU, then the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), in 1984, in protest of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic's inclusion into the continental body.

Morocco contends that the Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony, is an integral part of its kingdom. On the other hand, the Polisario Front, which is campaigning for the territory's independence, demands a referendum on self-determination.

Western Sahara is Africa's longest-running territorial dispute and an issue of continental and international law and diplomatic controversy, having been on the decolonisation agenda of the United Nations (UN) and AU for more than 50 years.

President Zuma will be accompanied by the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane; Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula; Minister of State Security, David Mahlobo; Minister in the Presidency for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Jeff Radebe; Minister of Public Service and Administration, Ngoako Ramatlhodi; Deputy Minister of Public Service and Administration, Ayanda Dlodlo, and Deputy Minister in the Presidency, Buti Manamela.