CMC: The first-ever Africa-Caribbean Community (CARICOM) summit has ended with an acknowledgement of the need for closer socio-economic relations as well as establishing the infrastructure that would allow for the greater movement of people from the two regions towards each other.
Kenya’s President, Uhuru Kenyatta, who co-chaired the virtual summit that was addressed by a number of African and CARICOM leaders, described the near four-hour deliberations as a “very successful summit” ‘that was held under the theme Unity Across Continents and Oceans: Opportunities for Deepening Integration.
“This summit has laid a firm foundation on which to build strong political, cultural and socio-economic cooperation for all people of African descent. This summit has provided a platform to envision a future anchored on shared prosperity for our two regions and in this context, we have had a rich productive discussion on the key pillars of this shared vision,” Kenyatta told the closing ceremony.
He said that the first pillar is the aspiration of the leaders for a much deeper political cooperation and collaboration between the African Union and the Caribbean Community “building on our shared heritage.
“The second is to manage the risks and threats that confront us, in particular, the management of the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, climate change, debt sustainability all of which require a multi-national approach”
He said that the summit had agreed to work together across the two regions “to define our priorities and ensure that the global response is aligned to our unique challenges.”
Kenyatta said that these risks also presents both African and Caribbean countries with opportunities to collectively “think out of the box and recognise as well as seize the opportunity presented by these crisis”.
He said the other pillar identified for cooperation is the promotion and expansion of trade and investment with a focus on new frontiers such as technology and in particular Fintech and the blue economy to catalyse fast recovery and growth of the respective economies.
A draft copy of the communique read out at the end of the summit noted that the two regions had expressed concern at the rapid mutation and spread of COVID-19 and the impact it has had on societies and health infrastructure.
“It was noted that countries of Africa and the Caribbean have faced enormous challenges in mitigating the impact of the pandemic. The summit, therefore, called for increased access to vaccines, called also for the production of vaccines in the continent and within the Caribbean and for the waiver of key elements of the TRIPS agreement to ensure greater access to vaccines.”
The draft communique, which is being circulated ahead of being released, indicated that the summit had also noted “the devastating economic effect that COVID-19 was having on our societies.
“It was noted that even though the G20 debt service suspension initiative was welcomed and that progress had been achieved in facilitating higher pandemic related spending there was still a need for enhanced debt relief measures and for financial access and for innovative approaches to debt sustainability and fiscal access to enable countries in our region to refocus on acieveing sustainable development goals and the goals of the Paris agreement.”