‘Unite or perish’- African, Caribbean states seek to fuel future prosperity through shared history

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By Kurt Campbell in Nassau, Bahamas
kurt@newsroom.gy 

Regarded as a reunion of Africans in the Caribbean diaspora, the 31st Afreximbank Annual Meetings (AAM2024) opened on Wednesday in the Bahamas with a sobering call to action for the two regions to unite on the front of trade and investment.

CARICOM Chairman and President of Guyana Dr. Irfaan Ali will address AAM2024, adding political and policy context to the discussions alongside the Prime Minister of the Bahamas Phillip Davis, Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley and Ghanaian President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.

Ghanaian President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo greeted on his arrival in the Bahamas 

Under the theme of building a “Global Africa”, this meeting is seen as a continuation of a journey that began in 2008 with the African Union’s declaration of the diaspora as Africa’s 6th region.

And while progress has been made on bringing African diasporas around the world together, Senior Executive Vice President at Afreximbank, Denys Denya, believes some artificial barriers remain, particularly in the Caribbean, that continue to block opportunities.

He reminded those gathered at the Baha Mar Convention Center on Wednesday that the African continent is endowed with an abundance of natural resources, accounting for large amounts of global minerals, oil and gas, but continues to struggle in its quest for sustainable development.

To make a comparison, Denya opined that the state of development in the Caribbean, while not identical, is also no different in the context of sustained deprivation and marginalization.

It is on this premise that he made the resounding call for the two regions to unite in the context of Global Africa for a better future.

Senior Executive Vice President at Afreximbank, Denys Denya

“In unity we have the numbers and voice to sit at the table when decisions are made… we are a viable force to influence global decisions,” an optimistic Denya noted.

Notwithstanding, he said intra-regional trade, one of the main pillars for building the unity of the regions, remains low.

“Strengthening investment flows is among crucial steps to generational wealth creation… enhancing interconnectivity… and increase our capacity to withstand global shock,” the bank’s Senior Executive Vice President added.

“It is time to change the narrative, unite and change the course of our destiny, unite or perish,” were also among sentiments echoed during his presentation.

He urged Caribbean states to no longer rely on the generosity and pity of others with long waits for aid and grants.

This is the first time that Afreximbank is hosting its annual meetings in the Caribbean, bringing over 2, 000 persons from Africa to the region. Coinciding with AAM2024 is the hosting of the 3rd AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum (ACTIF2024).

This year’s Annual Meetings will focus on the theme “Owning Our Destiny: Economic Prosperity on the Platform of Global Africa” and will include the launch of the Afreximbank 2024 Trade Report, plenary sessions addressing macroeconomic crises, economic transformation, and industrial transformation.

Already, 11 Caribbean Community (CARICOM) states have signed up under the African Export-Import Bank’s stated expressions of investment currently set at US$1.5 billion.

St. Lucia benefited from the first disbursement but the total sum is set to expand to US$3 billion also with the expectation that all 15 CARICOM member states will sign on.

Specific to the Caribbean, in 2018 the Afreximbank launched its diaspora strategy, which redefined intra-African trade as trade among Africans regardless of geographic location.

By 2020, the first historic direct flight between Africa and the Caribbean occurred between Jamaica and Nigeria. Since then, there have been direct flights between Barbados and Nigeria and Rwanda and Antigua and Barbuda.

In 2021, the first Africa-CARIOCM summit was held in Kenya and the regions cooperated during the COVID-19 pandemic, sharing vaccines and finding joint ways to address the challenges presented at the time.

Just out of the pandemic, in 2022, the first AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum (ACTIF2024) was held in Barbados followed by a second hosting in Guyana in 2023.

Through this forum, the bank hopes to help Global Africa become a major player in the financial spheres across the globe, removing countries like the small island states in the Caribbean from the mercy of creditors that encourage borrowing with dying implications for development.

Governor of the Central Bank of the Bahamas, John Rolle

And so, Governor of the Central Bank of the Bahamas, John Rolle has urged member states CARICOM to use the meeting to plan for the cause ahead, deliberate on common goals and address the barriers to trade.

He reminded of healthy growth recorded in the Caribbean in 2023 and similarly healthy growth projected for 2024, led by the developments unfolding in Guyana with the exploitation of oil and gas reserves.

The Afreximbank Annual Meetings and the Africa-Caribbean Trade and Investment Forum will conclude on June 14 with a packed agenda.

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1 Comment
  1. Terr says

    Hahahaha what a joke

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