Friday 7 August 2020
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newtimes - 1 month ago

EDITORIAL: There is no honour in not honouring international commitments

As the continent celebrates Africa Integration Day, one can safely say that although some countries have shown goodwill towards that end, the road is still bumpy. When the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) was signed in Kigali on March 21, 2018, there was a lot of excitement in the air, but it did not last long. The pace by which countries came on board and ratified the treaty was very discouraging, but luckily, as of today, 30 countries have ratified the treaty and brought it in force. But as fate would have it Covid-19 came and threw the spanner in the works and the full implementation has been put on hold for the time being. One interesting question is; had the Coronavirus not struck, would African countries have walked the talk? Would protectionist policies have been done away with? Some countries have a knack of not putting their money where their mouth is, and that is the case of the East African Community (EAC) that is facing severe financial difficulties because of poor or no remittances from member states Burundi and South Sudan are the biggest culprits and have been so for the last couple of years. Both countries have combined arrears that amount to about $43 million compared to Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda that have a total debt of less than $ 9 million. That issue is now top on the agenda when the EAC Council of Ministers meets this week. It should be time for both countries to show commitment and Covid-19 should not be raised as many are doing to cover their shortcomings. It is time to be firm.

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