Point of information, point of acquisition, point of order; these phrases were the backbone of the Specialised Technical Committee on Trade, Industry and Minerals committee session today. All of the delegates present were deeply immersed in the conversation and provided strong ideas on how to improve economic integration between the REC’s of Africa. In spite of all the delegates’ very informative contributions and thoughts, there were a select few who stood out; these were the delegates of: the Republic of Nigeria, the Republic of Liberia, the Republic of Djibouti and the Republic of Tunisia.
Nigeria is a member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Through its membership in the AU and ECOWAS, Nigeria has participated in various initiatives aimed at promoting regional economic integration in Africa. The delegate of the Republic of Nigeria provided key information on how the Republic implemented policies to strengthen trade institutions within the nation. The delegation stated that The Government strengthened The Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) and the Promotion Commission (NIPC) to provide support to local businesses looking to broaden their horizon and trade with other nations within Africa. However, the delegate described how a lack of workers rights, corruption and terrorism are pressing matters which are preventing Nigeria from achieving effective economic integration. The delegate emphasised on how improving the quality of working conditions will encourage higher productivity levels, which will allow Nigeria to access the abundance of natural resources they have at their disposal. To counteract the high levels of corruption and terrorism, it was proposed that the government could provide higher levels of transparency with funds and implement a stronger and more controlled police force. This delegate had clear ideas on how Nigeria could harness its true potential for trade through brilliant policies.
Similar to Nigeria, the republic of liberia is a member of ECOWAS, however the republic’s economy is underperforming immensely and is far from where it needs to be. The delegate of Liberia emphasised on how the civil wars from 1991-2003 were responsible for the nation’s corruption, declining GDP and inadequate infrastructure. It was stated that the GDP weakened by 93% over the 13 year period, due to unemployment rates skyrocketing and that corruption was created due to the mishandling of funds coming into the nation to provide assistance due to the civil wars. This delegate further emphasised how Liberia’s inadequate road networking system is preventing the nation from effectively importing and exporting goods. The delegate highlighted how the nation is combating these problems through the signing of the Abuja treaty and the African continental free trade agreement. However, the delegate impressed all of his fellow peers and the Dias with the ideas he presented on how Liberia could further enhance trade with other African nations. The ideas of easing VISA rulings to encourage more skilled workers to move to Liberia and implementing a loose monetary policy to stimulate economic growth were extremely insightful and were very well taken on board by his fellow delegates. The delegate of Liberia presented ideas in a clear and concise way, making them informative and understandable for his peers.
Djibouti is a member of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which is a regional organisation of eight countries in the Horn of Africa that aims to promote economic cooperation and regional integration. The delegation of Djibouti opened with how the nation is already striving for economic integration through the nation’s infrastructure development, by constructing the Djibouti-Ethiopia railway and the Ahmed Dini Ahmed airport, for the purpose of making trade easier. The delegate further supported the claim by explaining how Djibouti signed a free trade agreement with COMESA. These ideas were weighed against the hindrances holding the republic back, which were expressed by the delegate. It was stated that Djibouti’s lack of diversification with limited activity in manufacturing, agriculture and other sectors provides them with a much more niche market, which reduces their true capability of trading within Africa. It was also expressed how political instability in the republic’s neighbouring nations such as Somalia and Eritrea are reducing their possible markets. The delegate gave some stellar ideas on how economic integration can be achieved, starting with how the nation can invest in other sectors to diversify their economy to ensure multiple sources of income. The delegate also suggested implementing supply side policies to develop human capital through training and education.
When all seemed well, disaster STRUCK, as the chairperson of ALAMAU went missing and was reportedly kidnapped by terrorists. Instead of panicking and losing their cool, the delegates remained calm and focussed on the task at hand. The specialised technical committee on trade, industry and minerals collaborated very efficiently through an unmoderated caucus to brainstorm ideas on how to remove carbon colonialism, which was the requirement to set our beloved chairperson free. After 30 minutes of discussions and formatting a proposal, the delegates managed to write an impeccable piece, outlining how the increase in carbon sinks would reduce the energy climate crisis. This piece was of high enough quality to ensure the safety and release of Aya Ben Saad, which was imperative in helping the conference return to normality. The delegate’s quick thinking and sense of application was truly impressive and was a joy to watch.
In spite of the adversity the delegates faced, their ability to adapt and come together as a collective was truly commendable and I’d like to extend my gratitude towards all of them.
All of this has been brought to you by Muhammed Zain Alimahommed live from the African News Agency.