The African Union chairperson, President Cyril Ramaphosa, has urged African countries to avoid a surge of infections, which could lead to a second wave and necessitate a more stringent lockdown.

“The pandemic has shown a great deal of resilience and countries that have experienced a decline in infections have also encountered surges in infections, which has made them revisit the lockdown measures.

“We must try to avoid that scenario in Africa. We remain optimistic that the momentum will not be lost and we will ensure that all outstanding work is completed,” he said.

The President made the call on Thursday during the second mid-year coordination meeting of the African Union, the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and Regional Mechanisms (RMs).

With the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) set to come into effect next year, President Ramaphosa called on countries to ensure that all outstanding issues are addressed, paving the way for its implementation.

“With the finish line now in sight, we must make this final push and ensure all outstanding issues on Phases 1 and 2 are finalised in order for us to start trading by 1 January 2021,” said the President.

Division of Labour

The meeting welcomed progress made in the development of the detailed proposal on the Division of Labour by the AU Commission; the AU Development Agency-New Partnership for Africa’s Development; AfCFTA Secretariat; the African Peer Review Mechanism; the RECs; RMs and Member States in the areas of trade, political affairs and peace and security.

“We look forward to the finalisation of the remaining areas concerning the Division of Labour for consideration at the latest by the 35th Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly in February 2022,” said President Ramaphosa.

This, he said, will give the relevant stakeholders enough time to consult and to come back with a comprehensive document, which has the buy-in of everyone. In this context, the AU would have fulfilled the aspirations set out in the institutional reform process.

The meeting also considered and noted the report of Ghanaian President and the Champion of the AU Financial Institution, Nana Akufo Addo.

The establishment of the AU Financial Institution is set to go a long way in fulfilling the objectives of the Abuja Treaty and further deepen the continental economic integration project.

“It is imperative that we strengthen the RECs as building blocks for Africa’s continental integration. Intensified coordination and harmonisation will bring us closer to the realisation of the African Economic Community, in line with the principles of the Abuja Treaty,” said President Ramaphosa.

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