President Paul Kagame, who is also the Chairperson of the African Union, called on African nations not to lose sight of benefits of increased cooperation adding that the continent is stronger when united.
The President was speaking yesterday in Windhoek, Namibia during the 38th Southern Africa Development Cooperation (SADC) summit.
The President said that the difference in characteristics of countries ought not to be a reason to hinder cooperation but rather should be seen as an opportunity to draw strength from diversity.
“Our experience is that we are infinitely stronger when we face the world, as a common front, united in our diversity, and yet respectful of the interests of each country, whether large or small,” he said.
38th SADC Summit – in his capacity as African Union Chairperson – in Windhoek
Kagame added that much as domestic priorities are important, the actions of African nations should always be fully aligned with the ideals of Africa’s unity.
“We have the ability to do more for our countries individually, but even better, together. Today, more than ever, collaboration among African countries is not a choice. It is an imperative, in real terms.”
“It is precisely because we recognise the necessity and advantage, of going beyond the borders of our respective countries, that we have joined forces through Regional Economic Communities and the African Union,” Kagame said.
Beyond statements of unity and cooperation, the Head of State called on countries to match words to action to achieve meaningful progress.
“Attitudes that weaken mutual trust, saying one thing and acting to the contrary, and antagonising neighbours, can only slow us down. Nobody gains, instead, we end up advancing the external interests, who benefit from a divided Africa,” he said.
The President also commended SADC for often serving as a source of inspiration for the continent in collaboration efforts.
President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa (left) hands over the SADC chairmanship to President Hage Geingob of Namibia at the summit in
“We must continue to build on that tradition, and expand it beyond SADC, across the continent. Indeed, the Southern African Development Community’s industrialisation strategy clearly recognises that free trade facilitates export diversification, competitiveness, and inclusive growth. We are also on the move, as a continent,” he said
Going forward, he said that there are multiple collaboration opportunities which would strengthen Africa’s position globally. Among them include African Continental Free Trade Area and the Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons.
“In the years ahead, the African Continental Free Trade Area, and the Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons, will significantly increase the level of trade among African nations, while strengthening our negotiating position, globally,” he said.
Commenting on the progress of the ongoing institutional and financial reforms of the Union, Kagame said that issues raised by individual states, continue to be addressed in a flexible and consultative manner.
The day-long summit saw President Hage Geingob of Namibia take over the SADC Chairmanship from President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa.