CARICOM plans to strengthen ties with African Union

Prime Minister Andrew Holness cutting cake with members of the Diaspora in Nairobi in Kenya.

As the discussions on foreign policy in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) continue, the region is looking to improve relations with Africa through the African Union (AU).

Modelled on the European Union (EU), the AU promotes Africa’s growth and economic development through increased cooperation and continental integration. The AU Commission is headquartered in Addis Abba, Ethiopia, and the Commission Chairperson is Moussa Faki Mahamat of Chad since 2017. The AU has 55 members with Morocco returning in 2017.

The President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, will assume the AU Chair for 2020 at the 33rd Session of the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government in Addis Abba, February 9-10.

Progress made

During 2019, discussions on CARICOM/Africa cooperation made progress as the Presidents of Ghana and Kenya visited the region, and, following on other visits to African countries, the Prime Ministers of Jamaica and Barbados attended the 9th ACP Summit in Nairobi.

CARICOM leaders will have another opportunity to visit the continent when the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting is held in Kigali, Rwanda, from June 22 to 27. It is reported that CARICOM is planning to convene a meeting with the AU this year.

Relations between CARICOM and African counties, of course, date back to the time of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade resulting in the African Diaspora in the Caribbean. Prominent Caribbean nationals have contributed to the evolution of Pan-Africanism.

Ghana, during its 2019 Year of Return, promoted closer cooperation with the diaspora. To further encourage diaspora engagement, the University of the West Indies (UWI), in November 2019, announced the establishment of the PJ Patterson Centre for Africa/Caribbean Advocacy.