Windhoek — As Chairperson of the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) President Hage Geingob is expected to present the report on the Status of Integration in the regional bloc, at an AfCTA meeting in Niamey, Niger.
The meeting will be the12th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA), which takes place next week.
Sadc aims to deepen the regional integration agenda with a view to accelerating poverty eradication and the attainment of other economic and non-economic development goals.
Next week, African Union (AU) leaders will be meeting in Niger to mark the signing into force of the AfCFTA Agreement, which among other objectives, aims to create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments, and thus pave the way for accelerating the establishment of the African Customs Union.
Presidential press secretary Alfredo Hengari yesterday said that, convening under the theme "Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons: Towards Durable Solutions to Forced Displacements in Africa", the Extraordinary Summit will focus on AfCFTA, and following recent reforms of the AU serve as a coordination meeting of the AU and regional economic communities (RECs).
Hence, Hengari said, Geingob will present on behalf of the region the status report on the Status of Integration in Sadc.
En route to Niger, Hengari noted, the President will make a stopover in Kigali, Rwanda for a working visit to the republic at the invitation of President Paul Kagame as part of that country's Independence Day celebrations.
Hengari said Namibia is privileged to chair Sadc at a crucial time in its history. He explained that the role of chair of Sadc imposes heavy demands of representation at statutory meetings of international organisations such as the AU, the United Nations (UN), including at summits and events across the globe.
"Representation is about seizing opportunities for the region, speaking on its behalf, defending the interests of Sadc citizens, and positioning the region and the countries in it as sound investment destinations. The President will spare no effort to perform tasks diligently for the socio-economic development of Namibians and will continue to work for the Sadc region as chair," Hengari stated.
Therefore, Hengari said, it deserves emphasis that the responsibilities of the Head of State imply important domestic obligations, demands and expectations.
He explained that the President receives on a monthly basis an ever-expanding list of invitations to attend to diverse requests and issues, which Geingob honours to the best of his ability and in accordance with the important mandate Namibians have bestowed upon him.
This, he says, involves meeting with diverse domestic stakeholders, political actors, the diplomatic community, the private sector, learners, students, visiting delegations, to mention but a few.
A lot has been achieved since the AfCFTA Agreement was opened for signature on 21st March, 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda and what is expected as the AU moves on is to launch the operational phase of the continental market next week.
On 21st March this year, the agreement Establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area marked one year of existence. It was opened for signature on 21st March, 2018 at an Extraordinary Summit of the Assembly of African Union Heads of State and Government in Kigali, Rwanda. At that Summit, 44 AU member states signed the historic agreement.
The number rose to 49 at the July, 2018 Nouakchott, Mauritania Summit. Three more signatures were added during the February, 2019 Addis Ababa Summit, bringing the figure to 52 as the AU commemorated the first anniversary of this major milestone in Africa's resolute use of the lever of continental economic integration to deliver prosperity to her people in line with Agenda 2063: 'The Africa We Want'.
The AU Commissioner for Trade and Industry Albert Muchanga recently outlined that while awaiting the remaining three member states to sign on, Africa is progressing very well in the direction of securing deposits of instruments of ratification on the agreement Establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area. So far, more than 22 national parliaments of the AU member states have approved ratification of the agreement, and have deposited their instruments of ratification.