African Heads of State and Government gathered in Nairobi, Kenya for the Fifth Mid-Year Coordination Meeting of the African Union (AU) have affirmed their dedication to advancing integration, development, and cooperation across the continent. Led by President Azali Assoumani of Comoros and the Chairperson of the African Union, the leaders concluded the meeting by adopting a draft declaration, expressing their support for various initiatives aimed at boosting connectivity, tourism, and trade within Africa.
The meeting saw the participation of President Bola Tinubu of Nigeria, who serves as the Chairperson of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), as well as the Presidents of Kenya, Egypt, Gabon, Djibouti, Libya, Senegal, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo).
In a statement released by Mr. Dele Alake, the Special Adviser to the President on Special Duties, Communication, and Strategy, the leaders conveyed their endorsement for initiatives promoting connectivity and tourism in Africa, with specific emphasis on the implementation of E-visa facilitation. They also pledged their commitment to advocating for the ratification of the Protocol on Free Movement of Persons to effectively support the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agenda.
The leaders further vowed to support the operationalization and expansion of key initiatives such as the AfCFTA Adjustment Facility, Payment and Settlement System, and Guided Trade Initiative. These initiatives aim to enhance trade facilitation and economic cooperation among African nations.
The draft declaration encompassed several crucial points, including encouraging member states to provide E-visa facilitation to enhance connectivity and tourism, recognizing the positive progress made in operationalizing the AfCFTA Adjustment Facility, Payment and Settlement System, and Guided Trade Initiative, and urging the ratification of the Protocol on free movement of persons to support the effective implementation of the AfCFTA agenda.
Furthermore, the leaders called upon the African Union Commission (AUC) to convene a meeting of the Coordination Committee before the end of 2023 to finalize proposals regarding the division of labor in various sectors such as Economic Development, Integration, Investment and Industry; Agriculture, Food Security, Blue Economy, and Environment; Education, Science, Technology, and Innovation; Health, Humanitarian Affairs, and Social Development; and Transport, Energy, and Infrastructure.
During the meeting, President Tinubu, representing ECOWAS, presented a comprehensive report on the progress and challenges encountered in regional integration. He underscored ECOWAS’ commitment to promoting stability, democracy, and economic growth in Africa, emphasizing the organization’s dedication to good governance, the rule of law, and democratic values. The President reaffirmed ECOWAS’ readiness to actively address security challenges, working towards the integration and prosperity of the region.