The African Union (AU) has called on all African governments, the private sector and civil society organizations to redouble their efforts to give concrete meaning to trade and economic integration in Africa.
Speaking on behalf of the Chairperson of the AU Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, Dr. Monique Nsanzabaganwa, Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission, said the efforts will enable ordinary Africans, across the continent, even in the most remote areas, to take advantage of significant advantages.
She stressed that integration is the very essence of the existence of the African Union and that it was the founding component of the Organization of Africa in the early 1960s.
Dr. Nsanzabaganwa highlighted some of the progress made by AU Member States in accelerating integration despite the global uncertainties and insecurities caused by the ravages of COVID-19 and the Russian-Ukrainian conflict respectively.
This happened during the celebration of the 3rd edition of the African Integration Day under the theme “Deepening African Economic Integration in the Age of De-Globalization» held on 7e July 2022 in Lusaka, Zambia organized by tThe African Union Commission’s Department of Economic Development, Trade, Tourism, Industry and Minerals and Member States, Regional Economic Communities (RECs), Pan-African private sector, civil society, universities, research institutions, women and young people.
The overall objective of the commemoration of the 2022 African Integration Day and Forum was for African governments, the private sector, civil society, RECs and AU partners to discuss how to use the regional and continental integration processes and initiatives to foster the acceleration of Africa’s economic integration as it recovers in the post-COVID era.
The operationalization of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), one of the flagship projects of Agenda 2063, represents an opportunity in Africa’s journey towards the operationalization of an integrated market, which will culminate eventual formation of an African Economic Community, as in the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community (Abuja Treaty) which was adopted on 3 June 1991 and entered into force on 12 May 1994.
Accelerated full implementation of the AfCFTA should foster the economic dynamism of African Union Member States.
The large economic bloc, coupled with the promotion of regional value chains, is expected to accelerate Africa’s value addition to exports and the industrialization process.
Speaking at the same function, Amb. Albert Muchanga, Commissioner for Economic Development, Trade, Tourism, Industry and Minerals, welcoming participants to the celebration of the third edition of African Integration Day, mentioned some of the many factors that the continent is facing.
“Africa’s future in this new global environment lies in deeper, continent-wide economic integration. We are stronger working together; and, more resistant. We are weaker; and more vulnerable working as individual countries,” he said.
Amb. Muchanga encouraged African citizens; cross-border traders; schools; colleges; the universities; organized work; and, the media, among several stakeholders to actively engage in the African economic integration agenda.
“The private sector is advocating for an enabling environment for achieving our African integration and increasing our intra-African trade. We must have policies so that a special percentage of at least 40% of public procurement is allocated to our African businesses, including SMEs, women and youth owned businesses,” said Dr Amany Asfour , President of the Africa Business Council.
She added that “in order to increase our intra-African trade, we need to invest in our own resources for industrialization and value addition, and invest in building the capacity of our human resources, including women and youth. “.
Speaking on the importance of the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA), Patson Malisa, Vice-Chairperson of the AU Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC) said, “the The Tripartite FTA remains a relevant building block of continental integration, and of the AfCFTA in particular.
He further added that “the secretariats of the LTA RECs need to be strengthened (through technical assistance and financial support) to improve their readiness and increased advantage to participate in the AfCFTA” .
Senior Officials from AU Member States, AU Specialized Agencies, RECs, UN System Agencies and other Development Cooperation Partners, African financial institutionsthe private sector, academia, youth, women, civil society and the diaspora also participated in the event.