Africa is redoubling its efforts to deepen African economic integration; African Integration Day 2022
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 espoused in the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community (Abuja Treaty) adopted on 3 June 1991 and entered into force on 12 May 1994, declares the African Union.
In addition, the 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.
The 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 youth celebrated the 3rd edition of African Integration Day under the theme “Deepening African Economic Integration in the Era of De-Globalization” on July 7, 2022, Lusaka, Zambia.
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.
Speaking on behalf of the Chairperson of the AU Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, Dr. Monique Nsanzabaganwa, the Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission stressed that integration is the very essence of existence of the African Union and that it is the founding component of the African Union. Organization of Africa in the early 1960s.
She 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.
Dr. Nsanzabaganwa 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, so that ordinary Africans, across the continent , including in the most remote regions, can take advantage of significant advantages.
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 young people.
Speaking on the importance of the Tripartite Free Trade Area (FTTA), Patson Malisa, Vice Chairperson of the AU Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC) said: “The Tripartite FTA remains a relevant building block for continental integration, and the AfCFTA in particular.” He further added that “the secretariats of the RECs of the CFTA need to be strengthened (through technical assistance and financial support) in order 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 Institutions, Private Sector, Academia , youth, women, civil society and the diaspora also attended the event.
Since 2019, the African Union Heads of State and Government have designated July 7 of each year as “African Integration Day” to celebrate the major achievements of the regional and continental integration process, and also to deliberate on the essential lessons learned, with a view to addressing the challenges we face.
Africa’s integration program is enshrined in the Abuja Treaty (1991) and has the overriding objective of achieving an African Economic Community at the continental level, in six successive stages, which include strengthening sectoral cooperation and the creation of regional free trade areas, the establishment of a continental customs union, a common market, a monetary union and, possibly, an African economic community.
The consolidation of African economic integration will be based on the AfCFTA, the Protocol on Free Movement of Persons, Right of Residence and Right of Establishment, coupled with industrialization, infrastructure development and social integration .