AU highlights efforts to fast-track African integration

Banjul- The Gambia (PANA) -- African Integration Ministers and the Regional Economic Commissions (RECs) are seeking greater roles in efforts to quicken Africa's economic, social and political integration, an AU Commissioner said here.
Maxwell Kwezalamba, AU's Economic Affairs Commissioner, said the Ministers plan to meet yearly to review progress on the integration process.
"Once this is institutionalised, it will quicken things," he told a press conference in Banjul, the Gambia, Thursday.
Kwezalamba also said the RECs had proposed that their representatives be allowed to submit, at every AU summit, a report on the state of integration.
He expressed the hope that the proposal would attract the attention of AU leaders, who are due to meet in the Gambian capital 1-2 July.
The rationalisation and harmonisation of the RECs, described as the building blocs of African integration, are believed to be crucial to the process.
The AU currently recognises only eight RECs, including ECOWAS, SADC, COMESA and the EAC, but there are growing calls that the number be reduced to five.
However, Kwezalamba said the Executive Council, which met in Banjul 28-29 June, had called for cautious progress in the efforts to rationalise the RECs.
The Commissioner also highlighted efforts being made by the AU Commission to fast-track the integration process, which is the theme of the Banjul summit.
He said the proposed African Diplomatic Passport (ADP) would help to facilitate the free movement of people on the continent, just as the financial institutions being set up in conformity with the AU Constitutive Act would help propel the process.
For example, Kwezalamba said when established, the African Investment Bank would make it easier to finance regional integration processes, while the proposed African Central Bank would lead to the emergency of one currency, which will in turn facilitate the movements of goods and services on the continent.
He also suggested the need to revise the Abuja Treaty on the emergency of African Economic Community as part of the speed-up process.

30 june 2006 12:57:00

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