Bahamas June Afreximbank forum another landmark in Caribbean, Africa ties

Various earlier initiatives designed the long-weakened links between Africa and the Caribbean in forgettable ‘business collaboration,’ most notably the slave trade. They both have, incrementally, arrived at a point where both ‘the continent’ and the Caribbean would appear to have decided on the re-kindling of business ties, albeit, utilizing more pleasing mechanisms.

In recent years, there has been a marked acceleration of tryout visits to Africa by Caribbean business delegations, the most prominent recent one being a visit to West Africa in June last year by a trade delegation from the region facilitated by the Barbados-based Caribbean Export Deve-lopment Agency (Carib Export). While no one would have expected that the visit would have loosened the cobwebs that had, over the years, been fashioned between the two regions, specifically in terms of trade and commerce, it served to re-open a door that had been shut tight over several decades.

Fast forward to the establishment of the AFREXIMBANK in August last year in Barbados and the impact of Guyana’s world class oil resources on bringing African Heads of State and business delegations to Guyana and the wider Caribbean for bilateral engagements which, a handful of years earlier, were not on the agendas of either Africa or the Caribbean.

That the region, specifically The Bahamas is preparing to host two landmark events – the Afreximbank Annual Meeting IAAM) as well as the Afri-Caribbean Trade and Investment forum between June 12th to 14th, reflects, one feels, an awareness on both sides that they find themselves in game of ‘catchup,’ characterized by an acute awareness that the protracted delay in cementing the now existing ties compels both sides to go forward with a sense of urgency. ACTIF 2024, the title of the forum, will be executed under the theme “Owning Our Destiny: Economic Prosperity on the Platform of Global Africa,”

If the forum has identified as its primary mission the forging of significant pathways for economic prosperity between Africa and the Caribbean, it is the intensity of the deliberations and the extent of the commitment to realizing the undertakings in the sloganeering that are likely to get the attention of observers here in the Caribbean and in Africa.

While the release on the forum does not name the attending seven CARICOM Heads of Government, these are expected to include the Heads of Government of Guyana, Barbados and The Bahamas, the host to the forum. The likely expansive nature of the forum is reflected in the disclosure that the list of speakers/participants in the Nassau forum will include other prominent politicians and academics from the region.

Both Africa and the Caribbean have much to gain for sending to the rest of the international community a message that signals a preparedness by the two regions, whose growth and development had long been retarded by the burden of slavery, that they are now moving to enhance their socio-economic bona fides as parts of the international community through the strengthening of economic ties.

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