The 30th AU Summit adopts decisions key to advancing Africa’s economic integration agenda
From 22 to 29 January 2018, the African Union (AU) Heads of State and Government convened in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for the 30th Ordinary Session of the AU Summit. The 30th AU Summit took place under the theme ‘Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation’. This theme is necessary in Africa considering that corruption is among the greatest issues impeding the continent’s development.
The Summit concluded with decisions key to the AU’s flagship Agenda 2063, particularly those on single African air transport market; Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA); and free movement of people. Agenda 2063 ‘is a strategic framework for the socio-economic transformation of the continent over the next 50 years. It builds on, and seeks to accelerate, the implementation of past and existing continental initiatives for growth and sustainable development’. Some of these continental initiatives include the Minimum Integration Programme, the Programme for Infrastructural Development in Africa (PIDA), the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP), the New partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).
The 30th AU Summit adopted a Decision on the Establishment of a Single African Air Transport Market, aimed at liberalising intra-African air transport services. Intra-African air transport/service market is restrictive and protectionist. Protectionism is fuelled by the fact that some African governments want to protect their state-owned air carriers. Air services liberalisation ‘is vital to the achievement of the long-term vision of an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa under the AU Agenda 2063; that it will bring about the enhanced connectivity across the continent leading to sustainable development of the aviation and tourism industry with immense contribution to economic growth, job creation, prosperity and integration of Africa’.
The AU leaders also agreed to hold an Extraordinary Summit on 21 March 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda to deliberate on the CFTA legal instruments and sign the Agreement Establishing the CFTA. The CFTA ‘aims to create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments, and thus pave the way for accelerating the establishment of the Customs Union. It will also expand intra-African trade through better harmonisation and coordination of trade liberalisation and facilitation and instruments across the RECs and across Africa in general. The CFTA is also expected to enhance competitiveness at the industry and enterprise level through exploitation of opportunities for scale production, continental market access and better reallocation of resources’.
The Summit further adopted a Protocol to the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community Relating to Free Movement of Persons, Rights of Residence and Right of Establishment (Free Movement of People Protocol) and its Draft Implementation Roadmap. Effective implementation of the Free Movement of People Protocol could unlock the continent’s economic potential and stimulate African integration agenda. We believe that facilitating the movement of persons in tandem with the liberalisation process of trade in goods and trade in services will enhance intra-African connectivity and the continent’s economic development.
The Rwandan President, Paul Kagame is now AU Chair, and has declared his commitment to reform and renew the AU, and to strengthen African integration to support the continent’s development.
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