BLOG SERIES: Celebrating African Integration: What it means and why it matters
Long before Africa had its modern boundaries redefined by greedy powers, its people moved across the rolling savannahs, lush forests, vast deserts and serene grasslands with purpose, exchanging goods, meshing cultures and tying the knots of a common bond between its people.
There are lessons to be learned from the economic storm that is shaking the world to its core, with the unfolding of the Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic; that the current arrangement where Africa exports its raw resources to support its economic growth, can no longer work to the advantage of Africa and Africans. It is time that we bring about the change that transforms our continent into a global economic powerhouse, one that adds value to its resources and fulfills the rising expectations of its people.
In the wake of major disruptions in global supply chains and international transportation networks, an integrated Africa has become more relevant than ever, in order to build a more resilient continent to external shocks, one that is more capable to internally meet the needs and aspirations of its youthful population.
For African integration to truly work, we need to re-launch the conversation about the oneness of our continent, its relevance and its purpose, in order to take it to the next level for the entire African society, including the under-privileged, the young and the fragile. To do that, we need to be able to commonly identify and forge ahead with the Africa We Want; adaptable, agile, collaborative, diverse, modern, inclusive, prosperous and thriving, to the benefit of its governments, its businesses and, first and foremost, its citizens.
Most importantly, we must be able to do that without having to write endless pages of complex vocabulary, which get lost in translation as it crosses our many boundaries.
Our continent is home to the world’s most strategic resources: abundant arable land, precious minerals and a priceless, vibrant young population that is willing to learn and to adapt. We need to monitor and guide the use of these resources, and to change the paradigm, from trading with Africa to trading across Africa.
Today, we have an opportunity to bridge the gap with global leaders, by leveraging on technological advances to propel the continent towards a more central role on the global scenes, in all areas; agriculture, trade, health, tourism, manufacturing, finance, investment and others. We can also aim to provide a competitive and reliable alternative, for investors who want to reduce their supply chain risk and bring their manufacturing and production closer to home.
To these ends, the African Continental Free Trade Area represents our best opportunity to accelerate our development, beyond the current consumer society and more towards a truly productive and thriving one, through a closer collaboration between decision makers, private enterprises, civil society organizations and community leaders.
As Borderless Alliance, we remain committed to our core objective of promoting regional economic integration and the free movement of goods and people, in West Africa and beyond. We stand ready to collaborate with all concerned stakeholders, towards that end and for the benefit of all involved.
Africa is a land of opportunities, not just to the global economic leaders, but also to its people. It is our responsibility towards our young and future generations, to unleash the full benefits of an integrated, thriving and prosperous continent, one that they will be proud of and that is worth living for.
On behalf of Borderless Alliance and its network of members and partners, as we join our hands and our efforts, in our common pursuit of the peaceful and prosperous Africa that we all want, we wish all Africans in advance, a joyous and successful celebration of the maiden Africa Integration Day.
United and committed, we shall succeed.
Ziad Hamoui National President – Ghana Borderless Alliance