The first ordinary session of the fifth Parliament of the Pan-African Parliament kicked off officially on Monday 22/10/2018 at the Kigali Convention Centre in Rwanda, where legislators from across the continent convened to dissect matters pertaining to the continent’s progress.
Held under the theme: “Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation”, the sixth ordinary session of the Pan African Parliament received a keynote address from Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, who doubles as the Chairperson of the African Union.
In his address, President Paul KAGAME called on Pan-African legislators to ensure the speedy ratification of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) by member states.
“I ask for your support for a speedy ratification of the CFTA, the Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons, and other key pillars of Agenda 2063. The entry into force of these historic compacts will do more than almost anything else to accelerate economic growth and shatter outdated perceptions of our continent. We cannot afford to squander the momentum we have gained,” President Kagame said.
He added: “We need your help to communicate more effectively with constituents and stakeholders in civil society about the importance of these agreements for the well-being of our citizens and our economies.”
The CFTA – which was signed by 48 African states in July – is the world’s largest bloc, boasting a combined population of more than one billion people and a combined gross domestic product of more than US $3.4 trillion.
Once ratified, the CFTA is estimated to bring about long-term gains of about US$16 billion annually to Africa through the elimination of tariffs, free movement of people and goods across the continent.
The AU Chairperson further noted that the African Union is a healthier and more financially independent body than it was before, having slashed its annual budget by 14 percent and having more member states contributed their share of funds.
“Important changes are underway on our continent, and in the wider world, and we have to be ready to meet them. Working together is the only way to give Africa’s position the weight it should have in the wider geopolitical context,” President Kagame said.
“We must meet the imperative of good governance with innovations and solutions drawn from Africa’s rich experiences and cultures, even as we remain open to benefiting from the best global insights.
President of the Pan-African Parliament, Hon. Roger Nkodo DANG, told the assembly that fighting corruption across the continent must be paramount for regional integration to work.
“Illicit financial aided by corruption are responsible for capital flight from Africa of up to $50 billion, “he said.
“Corruption is a challenge that we should all be concerned about. It is up to us as legislators to work hard and fight against this evil that leads to poverty and underdevelopment.”
Speakers of parliaments of the Congo, Djibouti, Gabon, Mozambique, Tanzania, the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) as well the director of the Heavenly Culture World Peace Restoration of Light (HWPL) presented messages of solidarity. The speakers also unanimously hailed Rwanda’s Louise Mushikiwabo for her successful election to the position of Secretary General of the International Organization of the Francophonie (OIF).
They said that Ms Mushikiwabo’s election represents a unified and stronger Africa that is taking centre-stage on global issues. The Pan-African Parliament also swore in 16 new members from countries that include Chad, Comoros, Liberia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe