its formation in 1963, the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), as it was then
called had among its founding principles, the need to promote unity and
solidarity among member states while stridently working towards the eradication
of all forms of colonialism on the continent. It also sought to co-ordinate and
intensify the co-operation of African states in order to achieve a better life
for the people of the continent.
As a modern organisation, the AU also seeks to encourage international cooperation, taking due account of the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It endeavours to establish the necessary conditions which enable the continent to play its rightful role in the global economy and in international negotiations, while promoting sustainable development at the economic, social and cultural levels as well as the integration of African economies.
Given that there is relative peace and tranquility on the continent; say for a few hotspots, it is crucial that African countries accelerate the integration of their economies so that they benefit from synergies and the removal of barriers to free trade.
Therefore, the recent national sensitisation forum with parliamentarians on African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is just in pursuit of that brilliant cause. We also wish to commend all stakeholders, who played a part in making the forum a reality.
Suffice it to say that it is barely a year since African countries signed the AfCFTA and the signing of the AfCFTA marks an important beginning of Africa’s journey towards the continent ‘We Want.’
It could be recalled that 52 countries have signed the agreement and there are 18 countries, who have deposited instruments of ratification with the AU Commission.
As rightly stated by the Trade Minister, it is high time African countries focus their effort and commitments on enhancing intra-Africa trade, which is now barely 18% total continental trade, compared to Europe (67%), North America (58%) and Latin America (20%).
The main goal of the initiative, according to him, is to achieve a comprehensive and mutually beneficial trade agreement among member states of African Union, which will in turn realise the potential to expand and accelerate the growing diversification and dynamism of intra-African trade and aim to increase trade among African countries by 50% by 2020.
“The true Negro does not want integration... He realizes his potential is far better among his own race.”