Deepening African Economic Integration in the Era of De-Globalization

Africa is redoubling efforts to deepen African Economic Integration;Africa Integration Day 2022By THANDISIZWE MGUDLWA,CAPE TOWN, South Africa.

The operationalization of the African Continental Free Trade Area(AfCFTA), one of the flagship projects of Agenda 2063, represents anopportunity in Africa’s journey towards the operationalization of anintegrated market, that will eventually culminate in the formation ofan African Economic Community, as espoused in the Treaty Establishingthe African Economic Community (Abuja Treaty) which was adopted onJune 3, 1991 and entered into force on May 12, 1994, states theAfrican Union.Moreover, the accelerated full implementation of the AfCFTA, isexpected to promote economic dynamism among African Union MemberStates.The large economic block coupled with the promotion of regional valuechains, is expected to quicken Africa’s value addition to exports andindustrialization process.The African Union Commission’s Department of Economic Development,Trade, Tourism, Industry, and Minerals and the Member States, RegionalEconomic Communities (RECs), Pan-African Private Sector, CivilSociety, Academia, Research Institutions, Women and Youths celebratedthe 3rd edition of the Africa Integration Day under the theme“Deepening African Economic Integration in the Era ofDe-Globalization” on July 7, 2022, Lusaka, Zambia.The overall objective of the commemoration of the 2022 AfricanIntegration Day and Forum was for African governments, private sector,civil society, RECs and AU partners to deliberate on how to utilizeregional and continental integration processes and initiatives tofoster accelerated Africa’s economic integration in its recovery inthe post-COVID era.Speaking on behalf of the Chairperson of the AU Commission, MoussaFaki Mahamat, Dr. Monique Nsanzabaganwa, the Deputy Chairperson of theAfrican Union Commission emphasized that Integration is the veryessence of the existence of the African Union and it is the foundingcomponent of the Organization of Africa in the early 1960s.She highlighted some of the progress that had been achieved by the AUmember states in accelerating the integration despite the globaluncertainties and insecurities caused by the ravages of the COVID-19,and the Russia-Ukrainian conflict respectively.Dr. Nsanzabaganwa called upon all African Governments, the privatesector and civil society organizations to redouble their efforts togive concrete meaning to trade and economic integration in Africa, sothat ordinary Africans, across the continent, including in the mostremote regions, could derive significant benefits.Amb. Albert Muchanga, Commissioner for Economic Development, Trade,Tourism, Industry and Minerals welcoming participants to thecelebration of the third edition of the Africa Integration day,mentioned few of several factors that confront the continent. “Thefuture of Africa in this new global environment lies in deepereconomic integration, continent-wide.  We are stronger workingtogether; and, more resilient. We are weaker; and more vulnerableworking as individual countries,” he said.Amb. Muchanga encouraged African citizens; cross-border traders;schools; colleges; universities; organized labour; and, the media,among several stakeholders to be actively involved in the Africaneconomic integration agenda.“The private sector is advocating for the enabling environment forrealizing our African Integration and increasing our Intra AfricaTrade. We need to have policies for a special percentage of at least40 percent of the Government Procurement to be allocated for ourAfrican businesses, including SMEs, Women and Youth Owned Businesses,”said Dr. Amany Asfour, President of the Africa Business Council. Sheadded that, “In order to increase our Intra Africa Trade, we have toinvest in our own resources for industrialization and Value addition,and invest in building Capacity of our human resources, includingWomen and Youth.”Speaking about the importance of Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA),Patson Malisa, Deputy Presiding Officer of the AU’s Economic, Socialand Cultural Council (ECOSOCC) commented, “the Tripartite FTA remainsa relevant building bloc to continental integration, and the AfCFTA inparticular.” He further added that, “the TFTA RECs Secretariats needto be strengthened (through Technical Assistance and FinancialSupport) in order to enhance their readiness and accrued advantage toparticipate in AfCFTA.”Senior officials from the AU member states, AU specializedinstitutions, RECs, institutions from the UN system and otherdevelopment cooperating partners, African financial institutions, theprivate sector, academia, youth, women, civil society and diasporaalso attended the event.Since 2019, the African Union Heads of State and Government designated July 7 of each year as “the African Integration Day” to celebratemajor achievements attained in regional and continental integrationprocess, and also, to deliberate on critical lessons learned, with aview of addressing challenges being faced.Africa’s integration Agenda is enshrined in the Abuja Treaty (1991),and has an overarching goal of achieving an African Economic Communityat continental level, in six successive stages, which include thestrengthening of sectoral cooperation and the creation of regionalfree trade areas, establishment of a Continental Customs Union, CommonMarket, Monetary Union, and eventually African Economic Community.The consolidation of the African economic integration will hinge uponthe AfCFTA, Protocol on the Free Movement of People, Right ofResidence and Right of Establishment, coupled with industrialisation,infrastructural development and social integration.

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