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Date: 08 Sep, 2021
Source: Barbados Government Information Service

Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley has put forward several proposals to strengthen relations between Africa and CARICOM, including the establishment of a regular weekly direct flight and a mass media mechanism for sharing information.

Ms. Mottley shared her suggestions [yesterday], as she addressed the inaugural CARICOM-Africa Summit, which was held virtually, under the theme: Unity Across Continents and Oceans: Opportunities for Deepening Integration.

The Prime Minister said: “The establishment of a regular weekly direct airline flight between Africa and CARICOM, even if it means that we may have initially to help subsidise it, because without the vision that is necessary, without the mental emancipation, the unlocking of that 1.4 billion people will not happen.”

She also suggested the creation of a dedicated and highly empowered public-private sector mechanism that would enable the development of the African-Caribbean economy, particularly in the areas of digital technology, creative industries, renewable energy, and life sciences.

“And separate from that, …the ability to mobilise our funding in order to be able to ensure that we can finance development, not just of governments, but of companies and individuals in our two regions.

“Thirdly, the establishment of a joint AU-CARICOM electronic mass media platform or mechanism that facilitates the exchange of news, information and artistic programming and sports, because when our people see each other on a daily basis, they will understand why we must travel and why we must trade, and they will therefore enable those air links and maritime shipping links that we make to become sustainable,” Ms. Mottley added.

In pointing out that Africa and CARICOM made up one third of the world’s nations, the Prime Minister stressed that they must work together to bring reform to institutions such as the UN and Bretton Woods institutions, so they could unlock the potential to pursue development on behalf of their citizens.

She stated: “We continue to suffer from that lack of equity and lack of fair participation in those institutions, particularly in forging their policy framework and their programmes that can support countries like ours that face multiple crises….”

Ms. Mottley said the people of both regions had similar likes in food, and suggested that foods with added value should be exported to create economic wealth and prosperity for citizens. She opined that there was a need for more cricket-playing nations from Africa and the African diaspora.

She noted that Africa and CARICOM faced similar challenges, which she highlighted as including the climate crisis, violence because of various factors, and lack of access to affordable concessional financing.

The summit was chaired by President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta. Kenya hosted the meeting, which was put on hold in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.