ABUJA, (The Southern African Times) – As COVID-19 has plunged Africa into its first recession in 25 years, the African Union (AU) Thursday underlined the need to address challenges of African integration to accelerate the economic recovery of the continent.
The 55-member pan-African bloc, since July 7, has been commemorating Africa Integration Day under the theme, “The Role of Continental Integration in Accelerating African Economic Recovery from the COVID-19 Pandemic”, according to an AU statement on Thursday.
According to the statement, the cumulative loss of Africa’s GDP is estimated at between $145 and $190 billion with worrying projections that 39 million more people could be pushed into extreme poverty if urgent and purposed measures are not taken to address the socio-economic difficulties caused by the pandemic.
The statement quoted Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who is also Champion of Regional Integration, as he called for efforts to ensure the continental market integration of the 55 micro-markets to trade under the common market of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The AfCFTA was launched in January 2021, with a view to make regional integration a tool for development and reposition Africa in the international environment by redefining its mode of insertion in international trade.
Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of AU Commission, underlined the need to accelerate the implementation of Agenda 2063 projects in the areas of agriculture, infrastructure, energy, industry and services.
“Making AfCFTA a Production Community will ultimately enable us to accelerate economic growth and ensure our food, industrial and medical sovereignty to meet the emerging challenges on the horizon,” he said.
“With economic integration, we (Africa) will be better placed to overcome the negative effects of the pandemic,” said Albert Muchanga, AU Commissioner for Economic Development, Trade, Industry and Mining