Accelerated AfCFTA implementation and climate finance must dominate the AU Summit 2023 agenda
The leaders of the 55 member states of the African Union (AU) will be meeting for their 36th ordinary session of the AU Assembly on 18 and 19 February 2023 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. 60 years after the birth of the Organisation of African Unity, over 20 years of the AU and 40 years before 2063, this meeting serves as an opportune time for the organisation to take stock of the wins and lost opportunities of the AU meeting and the organisations plans to meet its objectives.
Two years after the AfCFTA (African Continental Free Trade Area) agreement became operational, the continent has only made slight progress in its execution. African countries have been struggling with the effects of pandemic, the war in Ukraine and climate change. As a result, 22 African countries are in debt distress or at a high risk of it – unable to address the reverberations, notably the rising cost of living, and loss of jobs and incomes.
Ahead of the AU Ordinary Summit, the ONE Campaign is calling on African leaders to:
•Enable free movement of people, goods and services:
o Adopt, ratify, and implement the AU protocol on the free movement of people across the continent; every young African deserves an African passport.
o Improve cross-border management by simplifying trading requirements, digitalization of administrative procedures, and having one-stop border posts.
•Make it easy and affordable to do business, and produce goods and services:
o Enact and enforce a consolidated national start-up law, like the Nigerian Startup Act, to improve the business environment. The laws should establish equity and guarantee funds to de-risk investment. It should also seek to protect intellectual property rights, simplify and automate administrative procedures, harmonize tax administration, and make information readily available through one-stop digital platforms.
•Unlock additional investment for critical infrastructure:
o Support the urgent implementation of the G20 independent expert panel recommendations for MDB optimization to unlock additional resources and reform how the banks work to be fit for today’s challenges, with clear demands for the needed reforms, investment priorities, and conditionalities.
o Adopt the recommendations of Dakar 2 declaration on food sovereignty and resilience. The AU should urge member states to finalise the development of their Country Food, and Agriculture Delivery Compacts, mobilise adequate resources to finance it and establish Presidential Delivery Councils to oversee the implementation of the compacts.
o Incentivise foreign and domestic investment flows to provide reliable and affordable power to businesses and to expand road & transport networks, ensuring rural and regional connectivity.
•Build resilience to the devastating impact of climate change:
o Climate finance for adaptation is a top priority. Africa is on the frontline of a climate emergency it did not create and is currently facing a financing gap of US$41 billion a year for adaptation. The AU should urge high income countries to deliver on their promises of adaptation finance, which means delivering on the goal of $100 billion a year for any year in 2020-2025, addressing any shortfalls through increased contributions in subsequent years, and setting out a delivery plan for the commitment to double adaptation finance as agreed at COP27.
Dorine Nininahazwe, AU and East Africa Director of the ONE Campaign, said: The AfCTFA is a vast free trade region bringing together the 55 countries of the AU and eight regional economic communities. The overall mandate is to create a single continental market with a population of about 1.3billion people and a combined Gross Domestic Product of approximately $3.4 trillion. The success of the AfCTFA could lift 30 million people out of extreme poverty.
The importance of the AfCTFA cannot be overstated, given the low proportion of inter-African trade when compared with other regions. Although Africa may be burdened with many challenges, the AfCTFA is a vital opportunity to build an integrated, prosperous and dynamic Africa driven by its leaders and citizens and represent a dynamic force in the global arena.
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