Africa’s journey towards an integrated continent reached an important milestone on 30 May 2019 with the entry into force of the Agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) following ratification by 22 State Parties.
The AfCFTA Agreement had earlier been signed by the first forty-four African Union (AU) Member States in Kigali, Rwanda on the 21 March 2018. This was historic not only because it marked the third stage of the roadmap set out in the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community (AEC) of 1991 (Abuja Treaty); but also because of the speed at which this happened. Never before, in the treaty making history of the African Union has a legal instrument of such nature received 22 ratifications in such a short period of time.
During the launch of the operational phase of the AfCFTA in Niamey, Niger on 7 July 2019, the 12th Extraordinary Summit of AU Heads of States and Government decided that 7 July of each year be designated as “the Africa Integration Day” (AID) without it being a holiday to commemorate the operationalisation of the AfCFTA Agreement and popularise economic integration across the continent as a lever of inclusive sustainable development.
Several activities are being organised by the African Union Commission to commemorate Africa Integration Day 2020. The inaugural panel discussion will focus on “COVID-19: The road ahead for African trade, economic integration and growth” where high powered panelists (H.E. Mr. Wamkele Mene, Secretary General of the AfCFTA Secretariat; Prof. Benedict Oramah, President and Chairman of the Board of Directors, Afreximbank; Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary General, UNCTAD; H.E. Dr. Vera Songwe,Executive Secretary of UNECA; Mr. Paolo Gomes, Afro-Champions Initiative; and H.E. Chileshe Mpundu Kapwepwe, Secretary General of COMESA) will discuss Africa’s economic integration future in the light of the current COVID-19 Pandemic which has exposed the vulnerability of African economies through disruption of global and regional supply chains due to government restrictions, and in some economies near collapse of the productive sector due to lockdowns.
The main objectives of the commemoration of Africa Integration Day are to:
Celebrate the progress made in the implementation of the African Integration Agenda including AfCFTA and its achievement, that is expected to increase Intra-African trade and investment thus generate economic growth and create more job opportunities for millions of Africans, and provide opportunities for women and youth entrepreneurs.
Disseminate and popularise the importance and challenges of regional integration in Africa including the status of Regional Integration in Africa and the progress made in AfCFTA and create a new positive mindset both on the continent and in the diaspora.
Galvanise and mobilise Africans within the continent and abroad around the subsequent steps towards the accelerated and full operationalization of the ideals and objectives envisioned in the eventual realization of the Establishment of the African Economic Community as envisaged in the Abuja Treaty.
Enhance inclusiveness and inclusivity of Africa integration process and agenda with a view to achieving the Continent’s structural transformation and inclusive.
Source: African Union