Head of African Union strategic partnerships, Bureau of the chairperson, Dr Levi Uche Madueke has disclosed that the African Union is implementing programmes to ensure Africa becomes a developed and integrated continent.
Speaking with Nigeria Journalists in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia recently, Dr. Madueke stated that key among the flagship programmes the African Union is promoting is connection of the continent through the high speed train network which is going to be a huge project.
He stated that projects aimed at developing Africa is structured in 10 years implementation plans.
He noted that for Africa to integrate, it must integrate by road, by rail, by air.
In his words: “We also think that time has come for Africa to promote intra African trade, we want to trade among ourselves”.
Madueke explained that: “In 2013, African Union celebrated 50 years of the existence of the Organisation of Africa’s Unity OAU, but then this thinking that if we could celebrate 50 years of experience, why don’t we plan for the next 50 years and we came up with what we call agenda 2063, but at the same time, we thought that 50 years offers a long time programme, so we decided to break them into phases and we have what we call ten years implementation plan”.
The Head African Union strategic partnerships pointed out that within agenda 2016, the organisation has seven aspirations, 20 goals and 39 priority areas.
According to him: “these are the programmes we want to implement within 10 years, those we cannot handle within that 10 years, we move on with it, these are projects we have designed to ensure that Africa becomes a developed and integrated continent”.
He said the AU is aware that there are some impediments which have limited Africans from trading among ourselves, like issue of tariff.
Madueke said that based on this development, the Union has come up with African continental free trade area, which came into effect on 30th May.
He added that: “this was because we believe that for us to engage with outsiders both in trade and investment, we need to first of all do our work in house. So these are some of the things we are doing within agenda 2063”.
On what to expect in the next 10 years phase, Madueke said Africans should expect results.
He explained further that the AU is ensuring that it network Africa by road, working with partners to ensure free African passport and free movement of the people.
He said: “If you can see what is happening in Africa now you can see that a lot of countries are beginning to grant visa on arrival, it has never happened before, these are part of the things we are doing and we believed that within the period of 10 years from 2013 to 2023, we have been able to achieve a lot, but those ones we could not achieve, there is no problem, we roll them over. The important thing is that we are poised to change the narrative to make sure that Africa becomes the Africa we all want”.
On why Nigeria is yet to sign the free trade agreement, Madueke explained further that the body is hoping that Nigeria will come on board.
Every country has a process, but I think Nigeria will take its time and we are hoping that Nigeria will join, Madueke said.
He noted that: “The African passport is a process, the example I told you that many African countries are beginning to remove the barriers that limits you from entering their borders, is a process, it cannot happen overnight. But that is the first phase, the African passport, is going to be a process because the free movement has started already and we are also encouraging our building block, the regional economic communities to come together and begin the process. ECOWAS has done well in that regards other regional communities are also engaging in that, so is going to be a process”.