President Hage Geingob participated in the 12th Extraordinary Session of the African Union (AU) Assembly and in the inaugural Mid-Year Coordination Meeting of the African Union and Regional Economic Communities (RECs).
According to a statement issued by State House, Dr. Geingob delivered a statement in his capacity as Chairperson of SADC during the First Mid- Year Coordination Meeting of the African Union and Regional Economic Communities.
The statement by the Chairperson of SADC to the inaugural meeting highlighted the achievements made by member states towards regional integration, which include the establishment in 2008 of the SADC Free-Trade Area (FTA), increasing trade in the region from 16% to 22%. President Geingob informed the leaders gathered that the SADC had made significant strides in the development of roads and ports that further facilitates trade and promotes economic growth in the region.
Applauding the inaugural meeting, President Geingob said: “This AU-REC Coordination Meeting, therefore, allows us to take a critical look at the progress made in implementing and meeting the objectives of our integration agenda, and provides us with a unique opportunity to take stock of our synergies with the AU Agenda and programmes. I am confident that we will learn from each other, and be able to chart our way forward in positioning ourselves to meet the Continental Agenda.”
The 12th Extraordinary Session served as the formal launch of the entry into force of the African Continental Free-Trade Area (AfCFTA) on 30 May 2019. To date 27 countries have ratified the Agreement establishing the AfCFTA, and 54 have signed it.
Trading between African countries under the AfCFTA will commence on 1 July 2020, while the Phase Two of the AfCFTA Negotiations on Investment Policy, Competition Policy, and Intellectual Property Rights are set to be concluded in December 2020.
Namibia ratified the Agreement establishing the AfCFTA in February 2019, which paved the way for the Namibian private sector and SMEs to fully participate in intra-Africa trade by taking advantage of the AfCFTA. The First Mid-Year Coordination Meeting considered the status of integration on the continent and began preliminary discussions on the division of labour between the African Union and Regional Economic Communities with a view to avoid duplication and overlapping mandates.
On the margins of the African Union Summit, President Geingob held talks with the host of the 12th Extraordinary Summit, president Mahamadou Issoufou, Leader of the AfCFTA.
President Geingob, who sits on the Board of the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI), representing the Southern African Region also participated in the Board Meeting of the Initiative on 7 July 2019. Progress with regards to the renewable energy targets set for 2020 (10GW) and 2030 (300GW); hosting arrangements for AREI and the 2020 Budget for the Independent Delivery Unit (IDU) were discussed. Prior to Niamey, Niger for the Extraordinary AU Summit, President Geingob participated at the invitation of President Paul Kagame in the Celebrations of Liberation Day on 4 July. On the margins of the Liberation Day celebrations, President Geingob and President Kagame held several discussions, focusing on bilateral ties, regional integration and international affairs.
Before attending the extraordinary summit in Niger President Geingob visited Rwanda where during a solemn ceremony on 5 July he laid a wreath at the Kigali Memorial Centre in remembrance of the genocide that occurred in that country 25 years ago.
Emphasizing unity as a precondition for socio-economic progress, President Geingob cautioned strongly against tribalism and racism as ills that had no place in society.
“Tribalism and racism are the same thing because both involve hatred towards other people”, President Geingob warned.
President Geingob commended Rwanda for the remarkable progress the country had made since the genocide 25 years ago.