AU official urges member states to pursue continental integration
Member states of the African Union (AU) and political leaders must muster political will to surrender part of their sovereignty over trade, economic and financial issues to regional and continental supranational organisations because the continent must be fully integrated in the coming 50 years, a senior AU official said here Monday.
“African countries should think regional and continental not only in name but also in deed and mainstream regional and continental integration programmes into their development strategies,” said Ms. Fatima Haram Acyl, the AU Commissioner for Trade and Industry.
Briefing journalists on Africa’s 2063 Agenda with a particular focus on the way to enhanced integration, the Commissioner noted that progress towards continental integration had been slow.
The process to total integration, she said, should be driven not only by governments but also by other majority stakeholders – private sector, civil society, mass media, youth and women.
Fatima suggested that institutional arrangements needed to be improved with elimination of multiplicity and overlapping membership of regional economic communities, better funding of organisations, mechanisms for monitoring and evaluation of decisions and sanctions for non-implementation of decisions, among others.
She said that for greater effectiveness and efficiency, integration institutions must be able to add value to the well-being and living conditions of ordinary Africans so that the relevance of integration becomes obvious to them.
“If we have to achieve sustainable and rapid economic growth and claim the 21st century for our people, the challenge is to be fully integrated within the next 50 years, and certainly not later than 2063,” she underlined.
The blueprint for African integration is the Abuja Treaty of June 1991 which provides for the establishment of an African Economic Community in six stages, with regional economic communities serving as the building blocks.
Meanwhile, AU’s Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, Rhoda Peace Tumusiime, has called on African countries to back their commitments with commensurate actions in transforming the agricultural sector with a focus on smallholders.
“The best reality check for our commitment to support smallholders would be to ensure mutual accountability in terms of clear targets such as budget allocations, access to productive resources for smallholders and building their resilience to certain shocks that make them vulnerable on account of climate variability and volatility of prices,” she said.
Talking to journalists here Monday on building Africa’s self-reliance towards the realisation of the 2063 Agenda on food security and nutrition, Tumusiime said that small farmers constitute the majority of producers in the sector and they make significant contribution to agricultural production in Africa.
“Africa’s independence has been compromised for a long time partly because of the continent’s disproportionate dependence on commercial food and aid from external sources to feed itself.
“We shall only achieve self-reliance if we address the strategic challenges of agricultural growth and transformation ... to become self-reliant, first and foremost, in food and nutrition security,” said Tumusiime.
Referring to population forecasts which suggest that Africa’s population will be more than doubled by 2050, she said that continent would then be dealing with a different category of farming communities from what is known today.
“Not only are these going to be younger, but also they will be better educated, better exposed to new technologies and modern ideas, better informed through ICTs and with growing needs and aspirations,” she said.
On that account, Tumusiime added that the issue of motivating the youth to see their future in a growing and transforming agriculture and rural economy present a real challenge to all at present, and more so, an opportunity.
The press conference may have been part of the African Union (AU) “memorable, people-centred and global year-long celebrations” which kicked off Sunday Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with a preparatory meeting of its Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC).
The year-long celebrations will include a commemorative summit, celebrations, sporting and cultural events as well as a gala dinner.
They will coincide with the Special Commemorative Summit on 25 May, 2013, on the theme “Pan Africanism and African Renaissance”, and the 21st Assembly of the Heads of State and Government on 26-27 May, 2013, which will be concluded with the adoption of a ‘landmark’ proclamation.