South African President Jacob Zuma listens to commentary during the first session of the third Africa-EU Summit in Tripoli, Libya.

Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma reaffirmed South Africa's commitment to defeating poverty and underdevelopment on the continent at the Africa-European Union Summit in Libya on Tuesday.

The event saw heads of state and governments concentrate on issues related to peace and security, climate change, regional integration and private sector development, infrastructure and energy, agriculture and food security, and migration.

“Despite the fact that Africa has abundant arable land and human resources that could potentially be translated into increased production, income and food security, our continent remains a region with the highest proportion of people who suffer from hunger, including the largest population of people living below the poverty line,” Zuma said in his address.

“Our people both in Africa and Europe look up to us for this partnership to grow our economies and create decent jobs.”

He said the slow pace of rural infrastructure development in Africa hampered the marketing and movement of agriculture products from one region to another.

“As South Africa, we are championing the North-South Corridor. This is a concrete step that we have taken to become food secure and we invite the EU to partner with us in this initiative...to ensure...tangible outcomes,” said Zuma.

He said the Africa-EU partnership would allow engagement on fundamental issues to overcome challenges facing the agriculture and food security sector.

“This partnership can demonstrate to the world, including other partners in Africa, what can be achieved when we work together to support initiatives that are led and owned by Africa - to combat hunger, grow our economies, and create decent jobs.”

Delegates also heard about the special needs of Africa and the 2015 deadline for achieving the Millennium Development goals that were adopted in September 2000.

Zuma said the biggest challenge in achieving the goals was transforming Africa's agricultural sector into an engine for economic growth and poverty eradication.

The president's two-day participation at the summit ended on Tuesday and he was expected back in South Africa on Wednesday. - Sapa