Kudzanai Sharara recently in Bridgetown, Barbados
The AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum 2022 (ACTIF2022) successfully concluded in Bridgetown, Barbados, on Saturday, with a commitment by participants to remove the scars of the past and build a commercial bridge towards forging a prosperous future for Africa and the Caribbean.
There are no direct flights between the Caribbean region and Africa.To travel between the two continents, passengers or cargo will have to go through Europe or the Americas. As a result there is very little commercial activity between the two continents.
And yet these are two continents with strong historical ties. Most in the Caribbeans are descendants of slaves, traded mostly from Africa. Connecting with Africa is thus like connecting with their roots and heritage.
As the theme of the Forum suggested, Africans and Caribbeans are “one people” and can have “one destiny” if they can unite and reimagine their future.
At the meeting commitments were made, among others to establish a sub diary of Afreximbank with a US$750 million kitty already in place. Direct flights are also being planned, probably starting with charter flights.
In the communique presented at the end of the Forum, the partners pledged the concrete implementation of strategic partnership between the business communities in Africa and the Caribbean with the objective of fostering bilateral cooperation and engagement in trade, investment, technology transfer, innovation, transport, tourism, culture and other services.
Afreximbank signed a Partnership Agreement with seven Caribbean States. The agreement is meant to usher in investments to concretise the commercial relations between the two regions, with an immediate focus on establishing an air bridge, and business to business match-making through the newly established African-Caribbean Business Council.
The partners stressed the critical importance of enhancing investment and trade for economic and social transformation in line with the Forum’s theme of “One People, One Destiny: Uniting and Reimagining our Future”,
Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley said that key goals had been achieved through ACTIF2022, adding, “What matters is not so much the subject area, but the attitude and approach, one for collaboration and two for de-risking, that we come now to today’s moment to be able to deal with. And that is the importance of today’s inaugural AfriCaribben Trade and Investment Forum because it allows us to see how we can work together to unlock those very difficult issues that have only been made worse, regrettably by matters beyond our control.”
Afreximbank President Professor Benedict Oramah, on his part, stated, “We keep our promises. We didn’t travel all these thousands of kilometres to come and make a show. We came here for a purpose. Coming here is an investment towards that end. The way we work, you have to realise the benefits of that investment. The benefits of that investment are concrete results coming out of the commitment we make here. You are going to see, in the next few months, actual things on the ground.”
The communique, read by Ambassador Chad Blackman, Permanent Representative of Barbados to the United Nations in Vienna, also thanked the 25 Heads of State and their representatives, and other government organisations for convening ACTIF2022.
ACTIF2022 was convened by the Government of Barbados and Afreximbank, in collaboration with the African Union Commission, the AfCFTA Secretariat, the Africa Business Council, the CARICOM Secretariat and the Caribbean Export Development Agency. It was co-managed by Invest Barbados and Export Barbados and attended by over 1,200 participants from 41 African countries, 16 Caribbean countries, and representatives from as far as Oceania.