Today we honour the establishment of the Organization of African Unity in 1963, forerunner to the African Union we know today. For anyone on our recent webinars, it remains an exciting time to commemorate Africa Day, mindful of the global challenge of COVID-19. Canada and Africa have met greater challenges and won.
Earlier this month The Canada-Africa Chamber of Business convened an online conference on Canada and the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA) – a deal which heralds a single $3.4-trillion GDP free trade market.
The Canadian government (represented by the Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs, MP Rob Oliphant), the African Union’s trade head (His Excellency Wamkele Mene) and a host of companies and government representatives from Canada and African countries participated in the event; bringing together over 400 business leaders, entrepreneurs, policy-makers and representatives from various African governments, as well as Global Affairs Canada
In recognising this historic milestone for Africa, Trade Secretary General Wamkele Mene thanked not only the government of Canada, but “the people of Canada,” recognising the independent expertise and goodwill of so many in the creation of the free trade deal and other initiatives.
As our Chamber President noted, on returning from last African Union Extraordinary Summit in Niamey: “the free trade deal is the culmination of decades of dreams for a more integrated continent; transcending old artificial borders imposed arbitrarily from the top-down by colonial powers”.
We know Canada can be a key player in a projected $3.4-trillion GDP free trade market.
Arising from our engagements, and on an auspicious occasion like today, I believe our Canada-Africa Chamber – with its mission of accelerating trade and investment between Canada and Africa - must continue to convene events and programs that specifically enable implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area.
Since taking the post as Chair of the Board in March last year, I have been delighted to meet leading Canadian CEOs, the Prime Minister, Ministers and Members of various parties and think tanks – all in an effort to ensure Canada is and remains Africa’s partner of choice.
The vital work must continue. A renewed and ever-deeper era of Canada-Africa trade and investment, grounded in our common values and collaboration, is not simply possible; I believe together we can ensure it is imminent.
There are few greater honours than to work with so many of you in this mission – drawing on the foresight and wisdom of those who gathered in 1963 to set in motion the task we must continue, here in Canada and across the African continent.
Chair of the Board
The Canada-Africa Chamber of Business
Happy Africa Day from the Team!
Vice President, Canada
Vice President, Africa