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First CARICOM-Africa Summit Convenes

History was made on Sept. 7, 2021, when the inaugural CARICOM-Africa Summit was held. Kenya hosted the virtual event under the theme, “Unity Across Continents and Oceans: Opportunities for Deepening Integration.”

Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta chaired the summit.

Plans for Kenya to host a CARICOM and Africa Summit in 2020 had to be put on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The summit followed on the declaration by the African Union of the Diaspora as the sixth region of Africa.

Participants at the event included heads of state and government of the Caribbean community and the African Union, chairs of CARICOM and the African Union Commission and the Africa Regional Economic Communities (RECs), the secretaries-general of CARICOM and the Organization of the African Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) and the president of Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).

The deliberations institutionalize CARICOM-African Union collaboration, and an agreement was reached to host the Summits of the CARICOM- African Heads of State and Government bi-annually.

Included among matters discussed were greater economic trade and investment opportunities between Africa and the Caribbean; and solidarity in actions to address global challenges, including climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The African Union generously agreed to invite CARICOM to be part of the African Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP) for the acquisition of COVID-19 vaccines which allowed the community to benefit from bulk purchasing. The vaccines began arriving in CARICOM last month.

The summit followed a series of visits between the leaders of CARICOM and Africa, including the visits by President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana and President Kenyatta to the region in 2019; a reciprocal visit to Kenya by Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley, also in 2019; as well as visits to Namibia and South Africa by Prime Minister Andrew Holness of Jamaica in 2018 and Kenya in 2019; and a visit to Ghana by Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Keith Rowley in 2020.

While in Kenya, Mottley unveiled a plaque for a CARICOM diplomatic mission at an ultra-modern business complex in Nairobi.

Prime Minister Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbuda, chair of CARICOM, announced recently that the mission will be opened soon as he committed to strengthening relations between CARICOM and Africa during his term as chair of the regional integration movement.

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