It is worth noting that the First ASA Summit that was held in Abuja, Nigeria was a resounding success as it laid a solid foundation for our cooperation. Among other things, the summit came up with some significant outcomes that were manifestations of our collective resolve to overcome all prejudices and advance the bonds of relations that had existed at the bilateral level between our individual countries. I dare say that the momentum created by that Summit also laid the conditions for accelerating the process of developing stronger and closer relationship between African and South American countries based on the framework of a growing and existing relationship.
It is pertinent to say that the ASA process is unique in many respects as it is aimed at advancing and re-invigorating the long-standing historical and socio-cultural links between African and South American countries within the context of South-South cooperation. This process would invariably forge closer relations and promote development with a view to enhancing the quality of lives of our peoples.
Another major hallmark of this partnership is that it was intended to jointly address challenges of mutual concern to both sides taking into account the phenomenon of globalization and the increasing inter-dependence of countries and regions. Other critical challenges of common concern include climate change, multilateral trade negotiations, the realization of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the development of the two regions, the fight against terrorism and drug trafficking, nuclear non-proliferation, the reform of the United Nations system as well as the skewed global financial architecture.
This partnership also aims at re-focusing the low volumes of trade and trading imbalances that continue to underline the balance of payment position between the two regions. It further aims at enhancing bilateral relations that exist between countries of the two regions in an integrated manner. Indeed, it offers opportunities of becoming a win-win situation between us. And to this end, the two sides should begin the process of adding value to each other’s economic agenda.
I would like to point out that some progress has been made since the Abuja Summit. The Coordination Group has had four meetings and the Senior Officials had one meeting which was held in Brasilia, Brazil in June 2008. The latter established eight (8) Working Groups based on thematic areas of the Abuja Plan of Action. All the eight Working Groups have identified some projects/programmes for consideration and for adoption by the Summit. When work is finally completed on the Working Groups, we would have concrete projects that we should be able to implement.
Nevertheless, there is still a lot of work to be done. It is therefore important that we strengthen the institutional framework that supports the process. It is equally important that the mechanisms for ensuring proper follow up of our decisions are put in place. Furthermore, there is need to put in place a mechanism for actualizing the projects and activities that would give visibility and prestige to the partnership.
The ASA process offers potential for meeting the needs and aspirations of our peoples. The projects/programmes under this arrangement should attract dividends to the peoples of our two regions and uplift their overall standards of living. The time has come for the two sides to pursue development as the overarching objective of this partnership. Long live Africa-South America Partnership.
By HE Erastus Mwencha,
Deputy Chairperson, AU Commission