Nujoma sees strength in numbers for Africa
Windhoek – Without strength in numbers, Africa would not be able to effectively compete with powerful and unified regional economic blocks like the European Union.
According to Namibia’s Founding President, Dr Sam Nujoma, the continent can only make its mark within the fiercely competitive global economic system, if African countries pool their resources.
Speaking at the African Youth and Intergenerational Forum during the 50th anniversary of the OAU/AU in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Nujoma stressed the importance of economic co-operation among Africa countries.
During the anniversary celebration held under the theme: “Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance” Nujoma reminded African leaders about the ideals that were set out in the Abuja Treaty, which established the African Economic Community (AEC).
In operation since 1994, AEC offers a framework for continental integration. It was established by 51 African states during the 27th Summit of the OAU held June 2-6, 1991, in Abuja, Nigeria.
After 39 years of existence, Nujoma said, African leaders decided to dissolve the OAU and reconstitute it into a new organisation that would address the numerous challenges facing the continent.
The establishment of AEC, Nujoma said, “Was prompted by the necessity for collective planning and action to build intra-continental economic relations for the benefit of the African people”.
He further explained that the Abuja Treaty laid down detailed stages for economic integration at both regional and continental levels to eventually lead not only to free trade but also a common currency.
“Through the African Economic Community we agreed, as Africans, that we needed to do more to strengthen existing regional economic communities, create new ones where necessary, and ensure that we achieve intra and inter-regional co-operation in all areas of human endeavour.
“We also agreed on such important economic matters, as trade liberalisation in each regional economic community; the adoption of a common trade policy and working towards a common external tariff to establish a common African market,” said Nujoma.
He said regional economic communities (RECs), such as SADC and Economic Community for West African States (ECOWAS), constitute critical building blocks of the envisaged African integration.
Under the Abuja Treaty, Nujoma noted that: “We committed ourselves to a gradual elimination of obstacles to the free movement of persons, goods, services and capital and the right of residence among member states.
He said the treaty is expected to lead ultimately to the formation of an Africa-wide monetary union and economic community by 2025.
The Africa Union (AU), which was launched in South Africa, on July 9, 2002, aims to provide new direction to “our collective efforts and to face the developmental challenges more effectively, has to pursue and hasten the programme laid down in the Abuja Treaty”, he said.