Caribbean and Africa to strengthen ties
The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and Africa are taking steps to strengthen relations, including the establishment of direct air travel links between Africa and the Caribbean.
Following state visits to Barbados and Jamaica last week by President of Kenya, His Excellency Uhuru Kenyatta, CARICOM Chairman, the Hon. Allen Chastanet, Prime Minister of Saint Lucia, announced a series of decisions to boost ties with Africa.
The announcement came after discussions between the Kenyan President and his delegation, and Barbados Prime Minister the Hon Mia Mottley, PM Chastanet, Government Ministers representing Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname, and CARICOM Secretary-General, Amb. Irwin LaRocque.
Among the decisions are that efforts will be made to hold a CARICOM/African Union (AU) Heads of Government Summit over the next 12 months.
CARICOM and the AU will shortly sign a Memorandum of Understanding establishing a framework for engagement and cooperation.
In a Facebook post, PM Chastanet also announced that Barbados and Suriname would partner in establishing an Embassy in Ghana, and that Barbados and Saint Lucia would partner in establishing an Embassy in Kenya. An invitation has been sent out to all other CARICOM countries to join in the venture, he said.
The University of the West Indies will be undertaking student and faculty exchanges and joint education initiatives with the University of Nairobi and Kenyatta University.
CARICOM and Kenya have started work on a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for engagement and cooperation. Meanwhile, a high level Kenyan delegation will be returning to Barbados in September to conclude a number of Agreements, including a Multilateral Air Services Agreement, a Double Taxation Agreement, and Revenue and Digital Currency agreements.
The CARICOM Chair said that the Barbados and Kenya Chambers of Commerce and Industry would commence engagement and collaboration with each other.
“There is a commitment to resist any dividing of the African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of Nations, as well as a commitment to use the grouping to undertake much closer South/South relations,” Prime Minister Chastanet said.
He added: “The time has come for Africa and the Caribbean to re-connect and unite and engage with each other as members of a family in every positive and constructive way.”
In another post on Facebook, Prime Minister Chastanet said: “Given our historic and cultural ties to Africa, I have always been surprised that there hasn’t been greater collaboration between our two regions. We are now working to strengthen the ties between the Caribbean and Africa which will further assist in creating more opportunities for the people that we serve as well as to increase cooperation on global issues and challenges which our countries face.”