43rd Ordinary Session of AU Executive Council ends - AFRICAN PARLIAMENTARY NEWS



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Friday, July 14, 2023

43rd Ordinary Session of AU Executive Council ends

v  As Kenya announces plans to abolish Visa restrictions for African citizens

The 43rd Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the African Union (AU) came to an end on Friday July 14, 2023 at the United Nations (UN) Headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya.

The Session was held as part in the Fifth Mid-Year Coordination Meeting (5th MYCM) of the African Union (AU), the Regional Economic Communities, the Regional Mechanisms and the African Union Member States on the 16th July 2023.

The 5th MYCM was convened under the AU theme of the year 2023 “Acceleration of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Implementation”.

The Opening session featured speeches from H.E. Alfred Mutua, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kenya, H.E. Dhoihir Dhoulkamal, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Union of Comoros and Chairperson of the Executive Council who presented the Opening Statement.

In his opening speech, H.E. Dhoihir Dhoulkamal, noted that the session was taking place “at a time and within a special of the international scene marked by conflicts and various crisis”.   

“The war in the Sudan, the conflict in Eastern DRC, the transition process in Mali and Burkina Faso and Guinea, the war in Russia and Ukraine which is weighing heavily and negatively on the agricultural production of Africa” he said, remain at the very heart of our political and diplomatic program.

In his speech, Kenyan Foreign Affairs Minister H.E. Alfred Mutua, disclosed that by the end of the year, Kenya will open its borders to all AU member states. “Kenya is committed to progressively, and we are moving fast, to the end of this year, to abolish visas to citizens from African Union member states to make it easier to invest and do business in Kenya and across the continent” he said.

“We are going to open the borders of Kenya. We do not fear our fellow Africans”

“Come, travel to Kenya. Live and do business in Kenya. Trade and make money in Kenya, and we hope we will get reciprocity with the rest of you. Let us open our continent so that we can make money and live together”.

He stated that the African continent is blessed with many resources, yet it is often described as a poor continent, with people suffering from poverty, instability and insecurity.

“But for us to be recognized for who we really are, we need to unlock our collective socio-economic potential. And it is critical that we accelerate our integration, create synergies and build on our comparative advantages that allow us to trade freely with each other. We have to consolidate our markets, trade more with each other, and allow free movement of people across borders.”

Mutua harped on the economic disadvantages of the restrictions imposed on Africans in accessing countries within their borders while Europeans were given the right of way.

“Today in Africa, the reality is that for an African to visit any European nation is like trying to milk an elephant, because of the visa process.”

“However, for a European to visit an African nation, most of our nations, it is like a walk on the beach; it’s like going to have a cup of tea. But then, that is not the problem.”

“The tragedy is that for an African to visit a fellow African within the African African Union, the visa restrictions in many of our nations, among us, is like trying to brush the teeth of a crocodile.”

“For us to really enjoy the true economic benefits of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area, we need to behave like the Europeans and allow for the free movement of people and trade. Our development agencies, such as the African Union Development Agency and others, cannot really succeed when there are all these restrictions among ourselves” he concluded.

The Session considered the AU’s financial budget for 2024; the status of continental integration in Africa in accordance with the Abuja treaty; the status of regional integration; the draft report of the AU institutional reform; the division of labour among Member States, RECs/RMs and AU; and the 10-year implementation plan of Agenda 2063.

The Executive Council meeting will be followed by the Mid-Year Coordination Meeting (MYCM) of the African Union Bureau of Assembly, Chairpersons of the Regional Economic Communities, Regional Mechanisms and the AU member states on the 16th July, 2023. The MYCM will access the status of continental integration and coordinate efforts to accelerate the integration process through the implementation of a clear division of labor and collaboration between  the Union, RECs, RMs and Member States, in line with the principle of subsidiarity, complementarity and comparative advantage.


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