History was made on September 7th 2021, when the inaugural CARICOM-Africa Summit was held virtually under the theme ‘Unity Across Continents and Oceans: Opportunities for Deepening Integration’. The meeting, which was delayed a year due to the pandemic, aimed at ‘Promoting closer collaboration between Africa Diaspora, People of African Descent and the Caribbean and Pacific region and institutions.’
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta led the summit with leaders of 69 countries between Africa and the Caribbean. Among matters discussed were greater economic trade and investment opportunities between Africa and the Caribbean and solidarity in addressing global challenges, including climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Colleagues, we have it within our power to demand change in the international system and to fight for it and to make it happen. But only if we act harmoniously,” said President Kenyatta. “We are a population of approximately 1.4 billion people, with great natural and wealth-creating resources including oil, gas, agriculture, minerals, forestry, tourism, fisheries and much more.”
Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines speaking at the summit affirmed that the Africa-Caricom commission has been established for the strengthening of the diaspora in the continents.
Gonsalves pointed out that it is urgent to deepen cooperation and integration for the well-being of the people, with the purpose that they have a better quality of life.
The Prime Minister pointed out that Africa and the Caribbean are still under the designs of colonization.
“Africa, the Caribbean and our diaspora must strongly promote reparations to claim the genocides committed by the European colonies against our African and indigenous peoples”.
Dominica’s Prime Minister, Dr Roosevelt Skerrit, said urgent progress was needed on all that was discussed, and his island nation stood ready to play its part. He shared the excitement and expectations across the Caribbean and Africa for closer cooperation and contact between the continent and the region – and supported the call for an annual summit.
In recent years, many African nationals from Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa and more have opted for dual nationality through the Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Programmes offered by several Caribbean nations like Dominica and St Kitts and Nevis. These programmes permit individuals to contribute to a nation’s economy and gain additional travel rights, something African passports lack.
“The Caribbean CBI route allows African communities to build and grow their business and investments internationally, and it makes families feel a part of a region that they share a cultural heritage with,” says Micha Emmett, who is a South African dual-qualified lawyer and the CEO of a London headquartered citizenship advisory. “With ties strengthening between Africa and the Caribbean region, we can only expect more persons to partake in this initiative that is a win-win for both sides,” she added.
Meanwhile, CARICOM Secretary-General Dr Carla Barnett said the cycle of history has brought the Caribbean and Africa into a new union “that is freely entered into.” “As we seek to rebuild our economies… we must become alive for the opportunities for investment,” she added.