ITUC-Africa statement on the Commemoration of the 2023 Africa Day

Keywords : Declarations Structural Transformation For Africa’s Development

On the occasion of Africa Day, the African Regional Organisation of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-Africa joins the African Union and the people of Africa in celebrating the remarkable and modest achievements of our continent and reflecting on the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

This year’s theme, "Acceleration of African Continental Free Trade Area implementation," resonates deeply with our commitment to Pan-Africanism, economic integration, and the empowerment of African workers.

As we commemorate the 60th anniversary of the formation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), now African Union (AU), we pay tribute to the visionary leaders who championed the cause of African independence, liberation and unity. Their unwavering spirit of solidarity and determination laid the foundation for our collective efforts to shape the destiny of our continent.

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) represents a historic milestone in our economic integration, prosperity, and self-determination journey. It offers immense potential for job creation, industrialisation, and sustainable development while fostering intra-African trade and reducing our dependence on external markets.

However, we must acknowledge the challenges that lie ahead, notably the nexus between trade and decent work and the free movement of persons. It is crucial that the AfCFTA implementation process prioritises the welfare of African workers and safeguards their rights. As a trade union organisation, we call for a people-centred approach that ensures fair and just working conditions, social protection, and respect for labour rights in all aspects of the AfCFTA.

Finding decent, well-paid employment. is one of the main challenges faced by workers in Africa. If the AfCFTA has the potential to stimulate economic growth, it could also create jobs, but this will depend on which sectors benefit most from trade.
So, workers need to adapt to a rapidly changing labour market and acquire the skills required for future employment opportunities.

In the context of the AfCFTA, the free movement of people is a fundamental component of its success. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) asserts that the free movement of people fosters the development of regional value chains, encourages investment, and facilitates the transfer of knowledge and skills across borders. This movement of people enables workers to find employment opportunities in different countries, leading to improved labour mobility and efficiency.

Furthermore, the African Union Commission recognises the linkage between the free movement of people and economic integration. It acknowledges that enabling the movement of workers within the African continent promotes economic diversification, enhances productivity, and creates opportunities for entrepreneurship and innovation. This realisation informs the rationale for adopting the Protocol to the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community Relating to Free Movement of Persons, Right of Residence and Right of Establishment. Therefore, other African governments, aside from the only four countries that have ratified this essential Protocol, should urgently take steps to ratify, domesticate, apply and enforce it.

We urge African governments, regional economic communities, and all stakeholders to adopt measures that promote decent work, inclusive development, and sustainable industrialisation. This requires investments in skills development, technology transfer, infrastructure, and the establishment of robust social protection systems that leave no one behind.

On this Africa Day, let us reaffirm our commitment to the enduring principles of unity, solidarity and social justice. As we are all encouraged to work together towards the accomplishment of the Africa we want, ITUC-Africa will continue to advocate for the rights and welfare of African workers, ensuring that their voices are heard and their contributions recognised in shaping the future of our continent.

Together, we can build a more robust and better Africa.

In solidarity

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