Daily Trust (Abuja)

Africa: Integration As Key to Socio-Economic Development

opinion

An important decision taken when establishing the AU Constitutive Act was the creation of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD). NEPAD's priorities include: peace and security, democracy and good governance, regional cooperation and integration, capacity building and mobilizing resources for investment in agriculture, infrastructure, promoting diversification of production and exports particularly with respect to agro-industries, manufacturing, mining and tourism.

Although most of the NEPAD projects are still in the pipeline, NEPAD has done a commendable job in implementing the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM). APRM's mandate is to ensure that the policies and practices of participating countries conform to the agreed values in the following four focus areas: democracy and political governance, economic governance, corporate governance and socio-economic development. So far 30 AU Member states have joined APRM out of which 14 countries have been peer reviewed.

Concerning peace and security, in an attempt to establish a common defence policy for the African Continent, each geographical region has been tasked to establish regional brigades that can be deployed for AU peace-keeping missions when needed. So far, the AU maintains peace-keeping missions in Somalia and Darfur, Sudan in collaboration with the United Nations.

The AU also carried a successful operation to restore peace in the Comoro Islands in 2008. Currently, the UNSC has passed a resolution endorsing the deployment of ECOWAS regional force to restore peace and order and the territorial integrity of Mali. The main challenge facing AU peace-keeping missions is lack of resources. In this regard the AU is grateful for the support rendered to its peace-keeping missions by the Development Partners. It is important that the International Community continues to provide more assistance to the AU to enable it accomplish the task of restoring peace and security in all the countries experiencing political crisis. For, without peace and stability investments and other development activities cannot be carried out. At this juncture, it is important to relate the process of regional integration with the Turkish approach to deepen cooperation with the African countries. As we are all aware, Turkey has had a long engagement with Africa going back to the Ottoman Empire. Those relations declined substantially after the Ottoman Empire in the 19th century. Turkey's opening up to Africa was revived in 1990s with the adoption of the African Plan of Action. Turkish relations with Africa improved further when Turkey announced 2005 as "the year of Africa" and hosted the first Turkey-Africa Summit at Istanbul in 2008. The main objectives of the Summit were to strengthen Turkish-Africa relations and expand economic relations with Africa particularly in the fields of investment and trade. The Summit concluded by adopting two documents: "The Instanbul Declaration and " The Turkey-Africa Partnership Framework document". Another Turkish-Africa Summit will be held in 2013.

It is encouraging to note that in 2008 Turkey TIKA initiated an African Development Programme to help develop agriculture in Africa. This project covered 13 African countries, namely Burkina Faso, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Senegal Comoros, Madagascar, Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda. It is important that this programme is expanded to cover other crucial sectors such as infrastructure, manufacturing, mining, tourism and social sectors like education and health.

It would also be advisable to co-ordinate the TIKA development efforts in Africa with the initiatives made by other development partners such as TICAD, Europe - Africa, China-Africa, India-Africa, South-America-Africa cooperation processes. It is expected that, through the support of the development partners, the process of Africa's development can be accelerated for the benefit of the African people.

In conclusion, I would like to stress that regional and sub-regional economic cooperation and integration is crucial for the acceleration of development in Africa.

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