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Monday, September 27, 2021
UNITED NATIONS, Oct 13 2015 (IPS) - African member states’ vision and ambition echo their peoples’ aspirations and builds on the continent’s robust economic growth, said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during a High-Level Event on the “Role of African Regional and Sub-Regional Organizations in Achieving Regional Integration.”
The High-Level meeting is the first in a series of events marking Africa Week 2015, whose theme is “Moving From Aspirations to Reality.” Organized by the Office of the Special Advisor on Africa (OSAA), Africa Week 2015 engages member states and other stakeholders to address the continent’s development priorities.
It specifically focuses on implementing both the global 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the African Union’s Agenda 2063. Adopted in January 2015 by African heads of State, Agenda 2063 is an action plan for “all segments of African society to work together to build a prosperous and united Africa.”
It includes commitments to industrialise economies, develop infrastructure, eradicate poverty, improve education, and act on climate change. “They seek to build lives with quality education and health care, decent jobs, a clean environment and tolerant, inclusive and democratic societies,” noted the Secretary-General in his opening remarks.
“They demand and deserve a future where guns are silenced throughout the continent and poverty and hunger have no place,” Ban continued.
The first High-Level event of the week also underscored the importance of regional economic integration, highlighting the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) and the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) agreements.
Launched in June 2015, the TFTA aims to increase intra-regional trade between North, East and South Africa. The agreement covers an area four times the size of the European Union. It includes 26 countries, governing 58 percent of the continent’s GDP.
The CFTA is a larger continent-wide trade pact stemming from the TFTA whose negotiations are currently underway. Currently, Africa is the least economically integrated region in the world.
According to the World Trade Organization (WTO), intra-African trade currently makes up 12 percent of total trade, compared to 60 percent within Europe and Asia. Poor infrastructure and the lack of unity are cited as reasons for weak trade systems in the continent.
The UN Chief noted the shortfalls in the continent’s economic development, stating: “Much of the potential of the economies of Africa remains untapped, both in terms of its diverse resources and its people.”
Ban also emphasized the importance of cooperation, highlighting the partnership between the UN and the African Union (AU). “We have been working in silos for too long, but we know that no country or organization can achieve these goals alone.”
Africa Week 2015 will bring together key stakeholders to discuss a range of issues including conflict, gender equality, and youth development.
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