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Thursday, July 18, 2024

President Mnangagwa speaks on African Union Summit takeaways

Story by Josephine Mugiyo, Diplomatic Correspondent

CALLS for Africa to create value chains and sign the required protocols for member states to be part of the African Continental Free Trade Area took centre stage at the conclusion of the 36th Ordinary Session of the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa joined other African leaders at the summit, where issues of peace and security were also topical.

As the Heads of State from 54 African countries met in Addis Ababa this weekend, focus was on the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), among other issues.

The summit, which was themed: ‘The year of AfCFTA: Acceleration of the African Continental Free Trade Area Implementation’, saw much time being dedicated to how the African countries can put into place mechanisms that will allow for the free trade area to be operational.

President Mnangagwa, who joined his counterparts in the deliberations, said it was agreed that member states should ratify the protocol on the free trade area.

“Only about 4 countries have been able to ratify. We urged member states to move forward and ratify the protocols we feel that Africa should not continue to look outside,” he said.

Africa’s import bill is extremely high and if the African states implement the free trade area and work on their value chains, the import bill will go down, while export earnings increase.

“It was mentioned that billions and billions are spent on imports. We agreed that we should collaborate on value chains and reduce the deficit on relying on imports. The imports we get they actually get their raw materials from us here in Africa,” he added.

A peaceful environment is key for the continent as it pursues economic growth. The volatile situation in the eastern parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo was a key area of discussion, with President Mnangagwa highlighting that the affected parties were urged to pursue dialogue in solving the crisis.

“The most important for us to inform our people relates to the security council. The major security concern on the continent is the dispute in the eastern DRC. There have been accusations and counter accusations between DRC and Rwanda. The recommendation was that the two countries should pursue dialogue,” noted the President.

The Eastern DRC continues to be unstable after the invasion of some areas by the M23 rebels.

In October 2022, the group launched an offensive in the east of DRC, capturing the border town of Bunagana.

The Cabo Delgado Region of Mozambique which has seen the displacement of more than 800 000 people to date, was also discussed, with the SADC region being given the primary role to deal with the issue.

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