Roundup: AU mid-year coordinating meeting ends with call to accelerate integration, boost industrialization

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by Elias Shilangwa

LUSAKA, July 17 (Xinhua) -- The 4th African Union (AU) mid-year coordinating meeting concluded Sunday in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, with a call for members to accelerate the integration process and promote value addition to raw materials through increased industrialization.

Macky Sall, the AU chairperson, told reporters during a press briefing that the leaders agreed to actualize the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to promote trade and enhance integration.

Sall, who is also president of Senegal, said the coming into force of the free trading arrangement was a step in the right direction but needs to be followed up through concrete steps by members. He said the meeting tackled the importance of integration and the importance of a free trading arrangement.

He said Africa has been exporting raw materials for a long time, adding that it was time for a paradigm shift by ensuring that the continent starts adding value to its raw materials.

It was only through value addition that Africa will be able to create wealth and jobs for its people, said Sall, stressing that this was a process that needs to evolve.

He, however, said Africa was on the right track toward achieving the objectives of Agenda 2063, adding that the first 10 years of the development plan have come to an end and work on the next 10-year plan has started.

While acknowledging the progress made in implementing Agenda 2063 in its first 10 years, Sall noted that there have been challenges and lessons learned. He also said that Saturday's launch of an early warning platform, the Inter-Regional Knowledge Exchange on Early Warning and Conflict Prevention, will go a long way in promoting peace and ensuring stability on the continent.

The one-day meeting was held with a theme featuring Building Resilience in Nutrition on the African Continent: Accelerate the Human Capital, Social and Economic Development.

Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema said in the opening remarks that the theme of the meeting underscored the need for countries to reflect on how to transform the potential in the agriculture sector into tangible results for the wellbeing of people by ensuring that nutrition and food security were guaranteed.

While acknowledging the challenges facing Africa, the Zambian leader expressed optimism that the challenges could be resolved if countries worked together.

He urged member countries to consider signing and ratifying the Africa Risk Capacity Treaty which will open up assistance channels in planning, preparing and responding to shocks in a timely and cost-effective manner.

The Zambian president also called for increased productivity in the agriculture sector as well as accelerated value addition through agro-processing in order to guard against the growing global problem of food insecurity which has been compounded by rising costs of food, energy and agricultural inputs.

The meeting followed the holding of the 41st Ordinary Session of the Executive Council which was attended by ministers responsible for foreign affairs. It brought together members of the Bureau of the Assembly of the AU and the chairpersons of Regional Economic Communities to discuss various pertinent issues concerning the African continent. Enditem

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