The first session of the fifth Parliament of the Pan African Parliament was officially opened on Monday 22 October in Kigali, Rwanda.
Rwandan President and African Union chairperson Paul Kagame delivered the keynote address at the sixth session of the Pan African Parliament held under the theme
‘Winning the fight against corruption: a sustainable path to Africa’s transformation’.
In his address, Kagame called on Pan-African legislators to ensure the speedy ratification of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) by member states.
“I ask for your support for a speedy ratification of the CFTA, the Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons, and other key pillars of Agenda 2063. The entry into force of these historic compacts will do more than almost anything else to accelerate economic growth and shatter outdated perceptions of our continent. We cannot afford to squander the momentum we have gained,” Kagame said.
He added, “We need your help to communicate more effectively with constituents and stakeholders in civil society about the importance of these agreements for the well-being of our citizens and our economies.”
The CFTA – which was signed by 48 African states in July – is the world’s largest bloc, boasting a combined population of more than one billion people and a combined gross domestic product of more than USD3.4-trillion.
Once ratified, the CFTA is estimated to bring about long-term gains of about USD16-billion annually to Africa through the elimination of tariffs, free movement of people and goods across the continent.
African Union healthier
The AU Chairperson further noted that the African Union is a healthier and more financially independent body than it was before, having slashed its annual budget by 14% and having more member states contributed their share of funds.
“Important changes are underway on our continent, and in the wider world, and we have to be ready to meet them. Working together is the only way to give Africa’s position the weight it should have in the wider geopolitical context,” Kagame said.
“We must meet the imperative of good governance with innovations and solutions drawn from Africa’s rich experiences and cultures, even as we remain open to benefiting from the best global insights,” Kagama added.
Fight against corruption
President of the Pan-African Parliament, Roger Nkodo Dang, told the assembly that fighting corruption across the continent must be paramount for regional integration to work.
“Illicit financial aided by corruption are responsible for capital flight from Africa of up to USD50-billion, “Dang said.
“Corruption is a challenge that we should all be concerned about. It is up to us as legislators to work hard and fight against this evil that leads to poverty and underdevelopment,” Dang concluded.