The United Nations has welcomed the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), congratulating the leaders upon creating one of the world’s largest trading blocs with over 50 countries.
In a statement issued by the global body’s secretary general, Antonio Guterres, the United Nations said the move is important towards achieving the sustainable development goals and delivering the African agenda on peace and prosperity.
‘‘With the joint African Union – United Nations Agreement for the implementation of Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development, as our common framework, the entire United Nations family stands ready to support the continent as it forges forward the entry into force of the Continental Free Trade Area in the coming months,’‘ read part of the statement.
The entire United Nations family stands ready to support the continent as it forges forward the entry into force of the Continental Free Trade Area in the coming months.
On their part, The European Union (E.U.) Commission has lauded the African Union (A.U.) over the historic March 21 continental trade pact that was signed by over forty countries in the Rwandan capital, Kigali.
According to the E.U., the move was a very big step towards deepening continental integration and building on successes at the sub-regional levels.
This was contained in a March 22, 2018 joint statement signed by Vice President Federica Mogherini and two other E.U. Commissioners. It emphasized that they were also ready to support the implementation of the deal within the framework of existing A.U.-E.U. agreements signed last year.
The adoption and signing of the AfCFTA legal instruments and the signing of the Protocol on free movement of persons are concrete commitments to liberalisation and to building on what has already been achieved at the regional level.
frican leaders on Wednesday signed three major economic agreements during the African Union (AU) Extraordinary Session of Heads of State and Government in Kigali, Rwanda.
44 countries signed the agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area, while 43 heads of state signed the Kigali declaration for the launch of AfCFTA and 27 signed protocols relating to Free Movement of Persons, Right of Residence and Right of Establishment.
Reluctance over ‘Free Movement of Persons’?
The AU Protocol on the Free Movement of Person paved the way for citizens of different member states to be issued with African passports in future and establish businesses anywhere in Africa.
The AU has set a 2018 deadline for the removal of visa requirements for all African citizens in all African countries.
Rwanda eased its travel restrictions starting January this year by allowing travellers from across the world to get a visa-on-arrival, a move adopted in Kenya for Africans.
Governments now have the next six months, by September this year, to ratify the protocol. Those that did not sign can also do so during the window.
Under the protocol, member states are required to remove visa requirements for Africans, allow 90-day stay, and right of residence for any African in a territory other than his or her country of origin.
The protocol also calls for issuance of African passport in corroboration with the AU
“Enough is enough”: Nigeria response as xenophobic attack shames South Africa
South Africa has been hit by an outbreak of attacks on migrants from other African countries as the nation prepared to host a meeting of political and business leaders from across the continent.
A spate of violence that broke out in suburbs south of Johannesburg’s city center on Sunday and spread to the central business district on Monday saw the destruction of more than 50 shops and business premises mainly owned by Africans from countries in the rest of the continent such as Nigeria and Somalia. Cars and properties were torched and widespread looting took place.
The attacks come ahead of the beginning of the African edition of the World Economic Forum in Cape Town on Sept. 4 and before a state visit to South Africa by President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, a country whose nationals have been affected, next month.
“The continuing attacks on Nigerian nationals and businesses in South Africa are unacceptable,” the government of Nigeria said on Twitter. “Enough is enough. Nigeria will take definitive measures to ensure safety and protection of her citizens.”
The violence echoes sporadic outbreaks of attacks mainly targeting migrants from other African countries in some of South Africa’s poorest areas. In 2008 about 60 people were killed and over 50,000 forced from their homes and in 2015 seven people died in violence. Migrants are seen as competition for scarce jobs and government services.
Other Nigerian politicians, including former presidential election candidate Oby Ezekwesili called for stronger intervention by the government. The government has summoned South Africa’s ambassador, the Punch newspaper reported.
In a separate development, South African truckers on Monday started a wildcat strike, protesting against foreign truck drivers. More than 20 people were arrested in connection with attacks on trucks, possession of firearms and other weapons and blocking of roads in Richards Bay, a key port, and other parts of the southeastern KwaZulu-Natal province, police said.
Zambia warned its truck drivers, many of whom drive goods south to the South African port of Durban, to stay out of the country. Newsday, a Zimbabwean newspaper, reported that trucks were queuing on the Zimbabwean side of the border with South Africa at Beitbridge, with drivers reluctant to cross. Newspapers also reported that truck drivers were waiting for calm in eSwatini and Botswana.
“It is barbaric to attack people simply because they are foreigners, it is not acceptable,” Chanda Kasolo, permanent secretary in Zambia’s information ministry, said on national television. “Our leaders are doing everything possible to communicate with the South African government to ask them to take better control of things.”
South African politicians condemned the violence, in which one person was shot dead, according to eNCA, a local television station. At least 110 people were arrested.
Looting spread to Alexandra, an impoverished area in northern Johannesburg, overnight and there was unrest in Marabastad in Pretoria, 702 Talk Radio reported.
There was a police presence in central Johannesburg on Tuesday with some shops and schools closed. Major companies including Anglo American Plc, Absa Group Ltd. and AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. either closed their offices in the city center or reduced staffing.
Still, politicians from the ruling African National Congress have in the past made anti-immigrant comments and Johannesburg’s mayor, Herman Mashaba, has attracted criticism from human rights groups for his frequent attacks on undocumented migrants. Mashaba is a member of the opposition Democratic Alliance.
While ANC politicians including Ace Malagasy, the secretary-general of the ANC, and David Makhura, an ANC politician and premier of Gauteng province, in which Johannesburg and Pretoria lie, have said there is no justification for the violence South African president Cyril Ramaphosa is yet to make a public statement.
“There is an utter absence of leadership in this country,” said Claude Baissac, the head of Eunomix Business & Economics Ltd. “Lawlessness, lack of hope, lack of opportunity. It’s a country that’s slowly, slowly but continuously slipping into state failure.”
Massive and horrifying cyclone destroys an entire African city
“The scale of damage caused by Cyclone Idai that hit the Mozambican city of Beira is massive and horrifying,” this is according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, IFRC.
Beira was the first major casualty of the cyclone which struck the country late last week. The city was cut off from due to the effect of strong winds and rains that continued across the week according to reports.
Most communities were submerged with all communication lines cut off. Deaths have been reported along with massive human displacement and destruction of buildings in Beira.
Beira has been severely battered. But we are also hearing that the situation outside the city could be even worse. Yesterday, a large dam burst and cut off the last road to the city.
Jamie LeSueur who led the IFRC team on an aerial assessment said: “The situation is terrible. The scale of devastation is enormous. It seems that 90 per cent of the area is completely destroyed.
“Almost everything is destroyed. Communication lines have been completely cut and roads have been destroyed. Some affected communities are not accessible.
“Beira has been severely battered. But we are also hearing that the situation outside the city could be even worse. Yesterday, a large dam burst and cut off the last road to the city,” he stressed.
The Red Cross team were only able to tour the affected areas on Sunday. Their statement of March 18 said in part: “While the physical impact of Idai is beginning to emerge, the human impact is unclear.”
Brief by IFRC on impact of Cyclone Idai
Following its landfall in Mozambique Cyclone Idai continued west to Zimbabwe as a Tropical Storm, wreaking havoc in several districts in the eastern part of the country, with Chimanimani and Chipinge districts in Manicaland Province being the hardest-hit.
At least 31 deaths have been reported and over 100 people are missing in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe is the latest country in Southern Africa to be hit by heavy rains and violent winds, after Malawi and Mozambique.
The death toll in the three countries is currently estimated at 150. But this number is likely to change as the full extent of the damage becomes clear. More heavy rain is also anticipated and this may lead to further devastation.
IFRC has already released about 340,000 Swiss francs from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund which will go towards an initial response effort for about 7,500 people.
However, given the scale of the disaster, more resources may be needed to support Mozambique Red Cross efforts on the ground. Already, the team in Beira has identified shelter, health, and water, sanitation and hygiene as priorities
US imposes Visa restrictions on Ghana for “unnecessarily delaying” to accept its deported citizens
The United States said on Thursday it was imposing visa restrictions on Ghana, accusing the African country of not cooperating in accepting its citizens ordered removed from the United States.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “has ordered consular officers in Ghana to implement visa restrictions on certain categories of visa applicants,” the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said in a statement.
“Without an appropriate response from Ghana, the scope of these sanctions may be expanded to a wider population,” the statement said.
“Ghana has failed to live up to its obligations under international law to accept the return of its nationals ordered removed from the United States,” said DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said.
“We hope the Ghanaian government will work with us to reconcile these deficiencies quickly,” she said.
NEW: DHS Sec Nielsen says says Ghana has unreasonably delayed accepting nationals ordered removed from the US & Sec of State Pompeo told consular officers in Ghana to implement visa restrictions on certain categories of visa applicants that “may be expanded to a wider population”— Courtney Norris (@courtneyknorris) February 1, 2019
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