MIDRAND, South Africa, May 18 – President Uhuru Kenyatta has asked the African Union to up and expedite the integration agenda of the Continent.
He said deeper integration between African countries is key in unlocking the continent’s economic development.
The president said Africa needs to work together towards an integrated economy, trade, investment and the free movement of people across borders.
That integration should start by breaking the artificial borders created by the colonial masters and also by writing a new narrative to disabuse the notion that Africa is a hopeless continent characterized by disaster and death.
The President spoke from Midrand, South Africa, where he opened the 6th Ordinary Session of the Third Parliament of the Pan African Parliament (PAP).
He said Africa stands on the most promising times for its renaissance and rebirth since the founding fathers of the respective states won the independence of their countries.
President Kenyatta said Africa must start looking inwards for solutions to its various challenges rather than continued dependency on other world economies including economic dependency.
“The future of our continent cannot be left to the good graces of outside interests. Dependency on giving that only appears to be charitable must end. Foreign aid, which so often carries terms and conditions that preclude progress is not an acceptable basis for prosperity and freedom. It is time to give it up,” said the President.
President Kenyatta regretted that volumes of trading between African states are disappointingly low and unacceptable while trade with America, Asia and Europe continues to flourish.
“There cannot be a good reason why it is easier for us to trade with Asia, Europe and the Americas, rather than with fellow Africans”, added the President who was described by PAP president Bethuel Amadi as a true Pan-Africanist and icon of African politics.
President Kenyatta gave the example of the successful integration of the East African Community to underline the fact that the full integration of Africa is possible.
He said the dreams of the EAC partners to establish the block’s Customs Union, a Common Market, a Monetary Union and ultimately a Political Federation are about to be fully realized.
“Despite our comparatively small individual economies, the integration of the five East African economies has placed the entire region on a trajectory of growth that will fundamentally transform East Africa,” he said.
The recent discovery of commercially viable oil and gas deposits in the EAC is a major boost to the economy of the regional block, he added.
“To bolster growth, we have undertaken joint infrastructure projects to support trade, investment and free movement of our peoples across the region”, said President Kenyatta.
President Kenyatta however cautioned that regional integration is fraught with challenges, misunderstandings, and pitfalls.
“We know what it is to be faced with divisions of creed and culture. We know what it is like to be faced with the fear that fires xenophobia. We know what it is like to face the legacies of violence and hatred”, he said calling on Africa to boldly face these challenges for the better good.
President Kenyatta said Africa can no longer ignore the global phenomenon of terrorism in its quest for prosperity and unity.
African states must forge close ties and share information on threats and measures to jointly tackle the menace of terrorism, he said.
“The radicalization of young people extends beyond national or even continental borders. This fluid challenge requires unfailing solidarity between our states and a joint action plan between our national and regional levels”, said the President.
President Kenyatta also addressed issues of women and youth empowerment adding that Kenya has made great strides in the recognition of women, some of who now hold senior constitutional offices.
He said Kenya provides a good example on how women empowerment works.
He also announced that Kenya had become the second country after Mali to ratify the protocols establishing PAP.
PAP was established in March 2004, by Article 17 of The Constitutive Act of the African Union. It is one of the nine Organs provided for in the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community signed in 1991 in Abuja, Nigeria.
The rationale for the creation PAP is to provide a platform for African people and their organisations to be more involved in discussions and decision-making on the problems and challenges facing the continent.
Each of the 53 African states has five members from respective national assemblies. The Protocol establishing the continental Parliament requires that at least one (1) of the nominees must be a woman.
The five Kenyan members to PAP are senators Kipchumba Murkomen and Janet Ong’era , Women Representative Rachel Shebesh and MPs Zakayo Cheruiyot and Millie Odhiambo.
Besides Murkomen, Shebesh and Cheruiyot, the other members of PAP from Kenya are Millie Odhiambo (MP) and Senator Janet Ong’era.