FIRST AFRICA-CARICOM SUMMIT OF HEADS OF STATE AND GOVERNMENT
7TH SEPTEMBER 2021
Theme: UNITY ACROSS CONTINENTS AND OCEANS:
OPPORTUNITIES FOR DEEPENING INTEGRATION
Mr. Chairman (and Brother Uhuru Kenyatta)
Good morning and good afternoon.
I am truly honoured to address this historic inaugural Africa-CARICOM Summit, a timely dialogue which can only strengthen our fraternal bonds.
The common historical experiences between Africa and the Caribbean have been enriched by cultural, economic and political affinities. Potential untapped for centuries lies within our respective reaches as we not only develop national capacities, but engage opportunities for cooperation with each other across continents and oceans.
The challenges of the last year and a half have reinforced the possibilities and value of the Africa-CARICOM relationship. Most critically, Jamaica and the Caribbean region benefitted greatly from the African Union’s provision of access to COVID-19 vaccines and other critical medical supplies through the innovative AMSP which has been a game changer for the continent and for us.
The Africa Continental Free Trade Area is another – creating an enabling environment for the flow of investment and tourism.
For Jamaica, there is potential in the agro-industry and logistics sectors, and Jamaican companies have already invested in Africa. Opportunities also exist for scientific research and collaboration, investment in health care, technological innovation and digitization, as well as in the creative economy.
In relation to development financing, debt sustainability and climate change, our cooperation within the OACPS, Commonwealth, UN and WTO remains a strong foundation for deepening integration between us. We must also use all available platforms for securing meaningful outcomes from COP26.
Prior to the Pandemic we were pleased to have exchanged visits with Leaders and had plans for more. Jamaica was also pleased to receive the first non-stop flight from Lagos last December. Prospects exist for increased tourism and other exchanges between our regions to improve economic benefits and enhance people-to-people connections. This would narrow the geospatial and psychological separation, reclaim our historical connections and celebrate ourselves as members of the African Diaspora.
This Summit is the fulfilment of the vision of Garvey, Mandela, Nkrumah, Nyerere and other Pan Africanists who spoke of the manifest potential and greatness to be achieved from unified engagement.
Let us strive to fulfil their dreams, and ours, to unleash the full potential of the African Continent and the African Diaspora in CARICOM.