Resource Writer Beavan Dhliwayo
Zimbabwe joins the rest of the continent today to celebrate Africa Day, marking 56 years since the formation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), now known as the African Union (AU). This day offers the people of the continent an opportunity to pause and reflect on the collective actions needed to face the challenges facing the continent.
Among the main challenges is the need to accelerate intra-African trade and boost Africa's trade position in the global market by strengthening Africa's common voice and policy space in global trade negotiations.
The OAU was formed at a meeting of more than 30 African nations to influence the decolonization of African countries, including Angola, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
The organization pledged to support freedom fighters and remove military access to colonial nations, and established a charter to improve the subsistence of member states throughout Africa, where the Ethiopian head of state, Emperor Haile Selassie, promised: years . "
Colonialism is no longer the common enemy.
Apartheid is dead.
Now the common message must evolve to make Africa competitive in the global market and to serve itself without relying on European products.
There must be a common goal in combating health issues, poverty, economic freedom, improving the quality of education, mediation in civil wars, ecological issues, combating climate change and hunger, among others.
Africa has raw materials and all that is needed is the unity that was exhibited by the liberation leaders of Africa in the mid-twentieth century.
But this is proving difficult in this century.
The 18th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, adopted in January 2012 a resolution to establish a Free Trade Area by an indicative date of 2017.
The Summit also endorsed the Action Plan to Boost Intra-African Trade (BIAT) identifying seven priority action groups: trade policy, trade facilitation, productive capacity, trade-related infrastructure, trade finance, trade factor market integration.
Last year African leaders held an Extraordinary Summit on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in March 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda, during which the agreement establishing the AfCFTA was presented for signature along with the Kigali Declaration and the Protocol to the Treaty. Establishment of the African Economic Community on Free Movement of Persons, Right to Residence and Right to Establishment.
In all, 44 of the 55 AU member states signed the consolidated text of the AfCFTA Agreement, 47 signed the Kigali Declaration and 30 signed the Free Movement Protocol.
By the end of March 2019, only three countries had yet to sign the consolidated text of the AfCFTA Agreement – Benin, Eritrea and Nigeria.
ISS Today wrote that the ambitious AfCFTA, which technically goes into effect on May 30, could be the watershed for the haphazard African economy.
"Driven by Rwandan President Paul Kagame, the process of getting to that point may have broken all African records. The member states of the African Union have launched negotiations to create this huge market of 1.2 billion people with a GDP of more than $ 3.4 trillion in March last year. "
Economic analyst Jakkie Cilliers notes that if AfCFTA is implemented to the letter, it will improve Africa's economic growth and reduce extreme poverty more than any other isolated factor in the long run.
In his forthcoming book on the future of Africa, Cilliers reports on the results of predictions made using International Futures software on the likely impacts of 11 major transitions: social concessions, rejuvenated education, peace, a fourth wave of democracy, better health , external support, a demographic dividend (a timely expansion in the size of the working age population), an increase in local manufacturing, an agricultural revolution in Africa, outdated technologies – and AfCFTA.
Cilliers found that other factors such as social subsidies, agriculture, jumping and manufacturing will make the biggest difference in the short run.
But by 2050, the AfCFTA would clearly have the greatest impact on per capita GDP and extreme poverty.
"For example, in low-middle-income countries, annual per capita GDP would be increasing by more than $ 1,500, compared to the next most important factor, the technological leap, which would be adding just over $ 900.
"By 2050, AfCFTA would reduce extreme poverty by more than 6 percent, compared to the next most effective driver, revolutionized agriculture, which would do so by about 5.5 percent.
Meanwhile, African leaders must start running.
From this Africa Day and beyond, there must be vigorous negotiations to complete critical issues, such as tariff schedules, rules of origin, and dispute settlement procedures that are still on the table.
The rules of origin stipulate how much of a product must originate within the Free Trade Area so that it qualifies for preferential tariff rates.
On the other hand, lessons must be drawn from the Ebola epidemic to improve the public health services of African countries, which have suffered the consequences of decades of neglect.
Africa needs to quickly update these services as well as improve the capacity of its medical and paramedical workforce.
It is important to note that the continent has a quarter of the global burden of disease, but it has only two percent of the world's doctors, according to international public health consultant Cesar Chelala.
To date, progress has been hampered, particularly in rural areas, because infrastructure and health services are inadequate, and there is a widespread shortage of trained medical personnel.
Africa must decide and face this challenge for the continent's improvement.
In addition to problems directly related to the health sector, corruption and illicit financial flows are plentiful and African leaders must collectively develop strategies to combat these scourges.
Researchers estimate that Africa has lost more than $ 1 trillion in illicit financial flows.
Also, the widespread practice of bribing government officials by foreign companies should be curtailed through the application of national and international laws dealing with this addiction.
There must be unity of purpose that strengthens African states.
The weaknesses of a state affect the fight against poverty in many ways.
First, tackling poverty requires direct policy interventions, but the poorest African countries are less effective at reaching their poor.
For example, African governments must have the data and administrative know-how needed to securely identify their poor.
This means that they can not direct resources to them. Poverty reduction programs in countries like Malawi, Mali, Niger and Nigeria lose many of their poorest families, and Zimbabwe is no exception.
According to the World Economic Forum, "Growing evidence on gaps in state capacity and the importance of effective states for poverty reduction implies that, without significant governance improvement, Africa may be further behind in meeting the first sustainable development.
"To accelerate the end of poverty, African states must focus on developing sufficient capacities to design and implement poverty reduction strategies. Implementing these reforms is vital. After all, improving the quality of government is not only important for accelerating poverty reduction. It's also a development goal in itself, "he says.
"This Africa Day should not be just a holiday, but lessons should be drawn from the late revolutionary icon, Kwame Nkrumah, who once said:" Africa must unite or perish! Without genuine African unity, our continent will remain at the mercy of imperialist domination and exploitation. "