NIAMEY, July 8 (Xinhua) -- African leaders on Monday urged African Union (AU) member countries and regional economic communities to exert concerted efforts together with the AU towards the continent's integration.
The leaders made the urgent call here on Monday during the opening session of the first Mid-Year Coordination Meeting of the AU and the Regional Economic Communities on the margins of the AU Summit, slated for July 4 to 8 in Niamey, capital of Niger.
"If we work together and coordinate efforts we can ensure our common vision, aspiration and all the objectives of agenda 2063," Mahamadou Issoufou, President of Niger, told African leaders during the first Mid-Year Coordination Meeting.
Noting that 54 AU member countries have signed the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement in just one year period of the AfCFTA was launched, the Nigerian President stressed that "the signing and ratification of the AfCFTA is the fastest in the history of our organization."
Issoufou also stressed the need to replicate the success realized in the signing and ratification of the continental free trade pact to other continental and regional treaties so as to harness the potential advantages of the various continentally adopted agreements towards Africa's socioeconomic development.
"The aspiration of the African people driven by economic growth, empowerment of women and youth, justice, peace and security are also the major aspirations of the Agenda 2063 towards Africa's renaissance," Issoufou stressed.
"The plan of actions under the Agenda 2063 will lead us to the Africa we want by 2063 towards an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa led by Africans," Issoufou said, adding "this Agenda displays the programs that we all implement at regional and individual country levels."
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who is also the current chairperson of the AU, also on Monday stressed the vital role of the first coordination meeting between the AU and the regional economic communities to integrating continental efforts among the Union and various regional organizations towards Africa's development.
"It is extremely important that the activities undertaken by the regional economic communities and those undertaken by our Commission should draft in order in order to avoid duplication," he added.
"We all agree on the important role of these regional communities as main pillars of the project towards regional integration aiming at creating the African economic community representing a pivotal role in modernizing our continent," al-Sisi said.
"Despite what we have achieved on the continental level, yet we still have a long way and full of challenges," the Egyptian President stressed, as he urged AU member countries and regional economic communities to exert concerted efforts in addressing the challenges that the pan African bloc aspires to eradicate.
The Mid-Year Coordination Meeting came a day after African leaders on Sunday officially launched the operational phase of the AfCFTA Agreement during the 12th Extraordinary Summit of the AU Heads of State and Government in Niamey.
Chairperson of the AU Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, hailed the launch of the free trade pact, which was launched on March 21 last year in Kigali, capital of Rwanda, as a "historic moment" in Africa's history, especially toward the realization of the 50-year African development Agenda 2063.
"The speedy entry into force of the AfCFTA has been a major pride to all of us," Faki said. "Niamey marks the history of a new era in Africa's integration."