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Coordinated Efforts to Achieve Africa's Integration Urged
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Organizations striving for Africa's integration are called upon on Wednesday to work cooperatively in order to deliver efficiency at the opening ceremony of the ninth ministerial meeting of the African Union (AU).

"Performing institutions are vital for building-blocks in the integration process. We must therefore ensure that the institutions created to promote the integration objective are not only enabled to do so individually, but also work cooperatively and in synergy among themselves to speed up the process," said Dr.Isatou N'jie-Saidy, Gambian vice president and secretary of state for women's affairs.

She expected this meeting to "provide an opportunity to evolve new strategies for forging ahead towards the all-important goal ofintegrating our continent, both politically and economically."

"Integration is vital to our prosperity, security and development. There is therefore the need for a serious examinationof the mandate and functions of each and every one of our regionalintegration bodies, with a view to ensuring that they deliver effectively on their mandates," said Saidy.

Abdoulie Janneh, UN under-secretary-general and executive secretary of UNECA (United Nations Economic Commission for Africa),echoed her view at the opening ceremony.

"Although the African Union currently has eight formal RECs (Regional Economic Comminities), the reality on the ground is that Africa has at least 14 inter-governmental integration organizations, each of which has its own identity, its own treaties and its own protocols, and they also have their own governance structures and membership, many of which overlap," said Janneh.

"Therefore, while the rationale for Africa's integration is already clear and compelling, a well coordinated and harmonized aproach to establishing Africa's common market is now urgently needed," he concluded.

Regional integration and rationalization of the RECs are dominant themes of this two-day AU ministerial meeting, held in preperation for the seventh AU summit due to take place on July 1 and 2.

Other issues high on the agenda include post-conflict construction in Darfur, situation in Sudan, the Middle East and Palestine, reform of the United Nations, and bird flu.

(Xinhua News Agency June 29, 2006)

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