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As members of the Caribbean Community celebrate September 7 as Africa-Caricom Day, head of The PJ Patterson Institute for Africa-Caribbean Advocacy, former Jamaican prime minister PJ Patterson has lamented the absence of host, time or place for the 2nd Africa Union (AU) CARICOM Summit which was due in 2022.
Addressing the Africa-CARICOM Day commemoration event at the Council Room – UWI Regional Headquarters at Mona in Jamaica, Mr. Patterson warned that Further delay in settling these critical matters constituted a clear and frightening danger.
He implored the Africa Union and the Caribbean Community “on this Anniversary not to forego their hold and timely commitment “to build a foundation for lasting robust socio-economic and political engagements as well as partnerships between our regions for a collective prosperous future.”
“The clock is surely ticking – we cannot allow it to run out of time. We have waited much too long for united action and must seize the moment now to build our human capital, enhance economic development and increase our people to people intercourse,” Mr. Patterson implored.
He said Pivotal to commencing the process of institutionalizing the partnership of African and Caribbean States, the Memorandum of Understanding between the Secretariats of the AU and CARICOM is now ready for signature in order to facilitate adoption of the governance constitutive statutes by Heads.
Patterson called on both CARICOM and the AU secretariats for an immediate conclusion to place their signatures to the documents as the original deadline for its signing has passed.
“We in the Caribbean need to see from where we came and our African uncles and aunts need to visit where their nephews and nieces now dwell,” and against this background, Patterson called on the countries of Africa and the Caribbean “to reduce, and where feasible, remove visa requirements and barriers in the customs halls to facilitate easy travel between both regions as our Heads envisaged.”
“It’s a new brand of tourism that encourages cultural festivals, competitive sports, student exchanges – buttressed by the free and regular flow of information, news and artistic programming. That is how we cement the ancestral bonds and effectively ensure the spread of knowledge, innovation and sense of oneness, by direct people-to-people contact. Our aim is to promote a truly symbiotic relationship,” Mr. Patterson declared.
The former Jamaican prime minister said the issue of food security deserves the highest priority attention as the present conflict in Europe “threatens a shortage of the essential ingredients for food supplies, particularly on the African Continent.
“In sub-saharan Africa, more than one in 5 persons suffer hunger and starvation. With 60% of the world’s arable lands, Africa is importing more than 60% of its food and agricultural inputs.
“Within the Caribbean, we are still importing too much of the food we consume. It will become even more as the tourism sector expands unless we can produce more food for its consumption,” Patterson cautioned.
He welcomed the establishment of the African Eximbank’s Caribbean Headquarters in Barbados and applauded the announcement of its President to place a heavy emphasis on developing Food Security in its lending and credit facility programmes.
“Our Leaders having pledged their allegiance to an Africa-Caribbean alliance for reparative justice, the Institute therefore today supports the growing and inescapable demand that the Topic of Reparations be placed on the Agenda of the forthcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government to meet in Samoa (CHOGM) next year. We must be relentless and vociferous in our claim, no matter how uncomfortable those countries who engaged in the most heinous crime against humanity may feel,” Patterson exclaimed.
On the pressing matter of climate change, Mr. Patterson said “faced with rising sea levels, frequent and devastating hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanoes, droughts, floods, the 14 countries of the Community and 54 nations of Africa must unite to resist any lowering of the 1.5 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels as the Paris Accord provides and insist that the polluters pay in full for the destruction they have caused to our natural environment and fragile eco-systems.”
“Simultaneously, Africa and the Caribbean must mobilise their scientific expertise and adequate resources on climate change mitigation, adaptation strategies and initiatives to safeguard our national environment and promote resilience,” he advised.
“May this Africa-Caribbean Day be a testament to the enduring bond between Africa and the Caribbean. Our two regions can chart a prosperous future together by embracing collaboration, fostering cultural exchanges, and pursuing sustainable development.
“The P. J. Patterson Institute for Africa-Caribbean Advocacy calls upon governments, organizations, and individuals to seize the opportunities presented by this Day and work together to create a brighter future for Africa and the Caribbean, all its nations and its peoples. (WiredJA)