Pan African Parliament President: "I believe in One Africa, One Voice. I believe in the integration of the continent."
By Nkodo Roger Dang, President of the Pan African Parliament, August 22, 2017
We are witnessing a period in which nation states—and the relationships between nation states—are suffering from direct or indirect shocks that undermine previous assumptions of Western stability and are difficult to assess.
Brexit and the rise of nationalism in Europe, the election of Donald Trump and his "America First" rhetoric in the United States: these shocks reflect an isolationist movement that could hamper the growing integration advanced by globalization and the logic of liberalism.
At the same time, developing countries are expressing more forcefully a desire—and the necessity—for openness and expansion. Thus, Agenda 2063 carries the aspirations of the African continent and expresses the desire to see the birth of a politically united, secure and economically-integrated Africa within a common market that would carry an inclusive development of the continent.
I would like to acknowledge a strongly personal motivation to advance Aspiration 2 of Agenda 2063, which deals with the regional integration of the continent. It is fortunate, therefore, that in response to these new global dynamics the Pan-African Parliament will continue its reflection on the theme of "The problem of political and socio-economic integration of the African continent: The role of the Pan-African Parliament" during the Continental Conference, which will be held in Yaoundé, Cameroon, August 22–26, 2017.
Political and economic integration in Africa are "inextricably linked" and involve the democratization of African regional organizations, greater movement of people and goods, and the development of common measures to combat collective problems such as HIV-AIDS, climate change, education and poverty.
The political regional integration unfolding on the continent results from a dynamic that is in line with the declarations of intent in favour of a pan-African political ideal. The institutional architecture of the African Union includes bodies designed to ensure a balance between the legislature, the judiciary and the executive.
It must be acknowledged that much progress has been made: ECOWAS issued a common passport to facilitate intra-state travel. African countries are also making progress towards better coordination of their sectorial policies (agriculture, electricity, water, etc.) and this offers promising prospects for continental integration. Nevertheless, the economic record remains mixed. The volume of intra-African trade has steadily increased over the last 20 years, but still accounts for only 12 per cent of total trade in Africa compared with 60 per cent for the European Union. We must work on barriers to integration such as lack of infrastructure, cumbersome administrative procedures, border controls and corruption.
A more advanced integration can only be accomplished with the transfer of power to supranational entities.
The Pan African Parliament—while affirming its unwavering commitment to national sovereignty and the prerogative of states—can only be functional and operational if it is able to exercise its mandate. The ratification of Protocol to the Constitutive Act of the African Union relating to the Pan-African Parliament is one of the imperatives underlying such progress.
I do believe that Africa has the actors and the will to meet the challenges that mark its path. I believe in One Africa, One Voice. I believe in the integration of the continent.
His Excellency the Honorable Nkodo Roger Dang, President of the Pan African Parliament, shared his thoughts on regional integration with IISD's Perspectives Newsletter ahead of the parliament’s upcoming Continental Conference.
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