President Uhuru Kenyatta today called for direct engagement amongst African-Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries to achieve common historical aspirations.
The President who is on a State visit to Cuba said despite the impact of African-Caribbean-Pacific and European Union nations cooperation, the three regions can forge a more direct platform among themselves for the benefit of their citizens.
He said despite the ACP countries having a long common history; they have always depended on the platform of the European Union nations to interact with each other.
“Must the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries relate through Europe?” asked President Kenyatta during a breakfast meeting he hosted for the envoys of ACP countries in Cuba.
“I believe that we need to create other modes of platforms on which Africa can have direct engagements with the Caribbean and Pacific countries, for instance the AU-Caricom forum and likewise for the Pacific,” said the President.
The President said a new platform would enable the African-Caribbean and Pacific nations to engage and share ideas on regular basis as opposed to what is happening currently.
Citing the recent events in Buenos Aries, Argentina, where there was a stalemate during the 11th World Trade Organization, Ministerial Conference, President said this was a clear a case for need to deepen trade amongst intra ACP cooperation. He said despite their numbers, ACP global trade remains dismal, constituting less than two per cent of the world trade.
The President therefore called for the ACP nations to focus on ways of removing a number of constrains which impede their capacity to compete globally.
He said it was unfortunate that whenever there is a discussion regarding the African, Caribbean and Pacific relations, there is always a quick reference to its relations in the context the European Union.
President Kenyatta said some of the impediments to such as infrastructural deficits have drastically impaired Africa’s global competitiveness and ultimately reduced its annual growth rate by more than three percentage points.
“According to the recent reports, Africa requires close to USD 100billion annually for the next ten years in order to transform its infrastructure,” said the President.
He pointed out that Africa can only raise just about half of the figure leaving it with a budget deficit of close to 50 per cent. The Head of State pointed out that concerted efforts involving the private sector could unlock some of the infrastructural challenges that face Africa.