On behalf of the Government and people of Antigua and Barbuda, I wish to join the Caribbean Community in the commemoration of Africa-CARICOM Day 2023.
This auspicious event emerged out of the historic Africa-CARICOM Summit held on 7th September, 2021 with an aim to enhance social, economic and cultural connections between the Caribbean and the African continent.
I am pleased to recall that the delegation of Antigua and Barbuda led this charge to establish the link between the African continent and the countries of the CARICOM.
In an effort to improve people-to-people relations, the Government of Antigua and Barbuda has determined to establish a direct air transport route between the African continent and the Caribbean. This visionary approach will ensure that new trading routes are established along with new opportunities for the tourism sector.
My Government views this venture as a necessary element to increase trade, investment and people-to-people connectivity through the Orange Economy. Furthermore, the partnership between LIAT 2020 and Air Peace Limited will result in improved regional connectivity which is critical to the integration movement to which all CARICOM Member States subscribe.
Today, two years following the historic Summit, while the momentum of the Summit propels our binding ties, we are furthering and deepening our relations with our brothers and sisters of Africa through frequent dialogue on a bilateral basis, and collaboration within public-private-partnerships.
We have also seen increased cooperation through multilateral organisations such as the United Nations, the Commonwealth, and the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) which has ultimately assisted the citizens of this Region.
The Caribbean and Africa have had a long 500-year history. It has been well documented that many of our forbearers were plucked from Africa during the dark period of the transatlantic slave trade. However, emerging from this horrid history were a resilient people who, to this day, have sought to shape their societies and countries in our own unique manner. Our governments have also sought to improve the lives and livelihood of our people through strategic alliances aimed at lessening our dependence on the global North, while furthering economic prosperity and enabling justifiable pride. With shared values and collaboration based on key principles, the future of African-Caribbean relations will only grow from strength to strength.
It is with pride that, on this day, Antigua and Barbuda can report that it has engaged in deepening relations with the African continent through its foreign policy initiatives. The establishment of the Embassies of the Eastern Caribbean States in the Kingdom of Morocco, in 2019, along with the Member States of the Organisation of the Eastern Caribbean States, has highlighted the importance and our determination to engage directly with Africa.
Additionally, the opening of the AFREXIMBANK Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Branch in Barbados of this year has facilitated new trade and investment opportunities for the private sector of CARICOM, which will unquestionably strengthen South-South cooperation.
I wish to commend the Antigua and Barbuda Reparations Support Commission which has organized activities to commemorate this important date in our twin-island nation.
These activities which will occur on the 7th and 8th September will comprise of school tours; to a youth led panel discussion; and an evening of poetry, jazz, spoken word, music and song. The inclusion of the youth in these activities will further assist to heighten greater awareness and opportunities between the Caribbean and Africa.
In closing, I wish to encourage all citizens to embrace Africa-CARICOM Day which not only seeks to highlight our historical linkage but will enforce the bonds of our friendship. I believe that the vision of great leaders such as Marcus Garvey, Kwame Nkrumah, Nelson Mandela and V.C.
Bird to see greater unity between the Caribbean and Africa is being realized through our people. Let us explore the opportunities that exist amongst our Regions and embrace all possibilities to drive our development through a shared vison and common purpose.
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