From the look of things, President William Ruto intends to make pan-Africanism the cornerstone of his foreign policy. He has so far visited Tanzania, Egypt, DRC, Eritrea, Senegal, Burundi, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia and Djibouti. Following bilateral agreements, visa requirements have been abolished for travel of citizens of South Africa and Eritrea. It is expected that Djibouti would join the bandwagon soon. By the principle of reciprocity, Kenyans now have visa-free access to the same countries.
Beyond these immediate benefits accruing to citizens of Africa are other advantages that come with closer engagements within the continent. Africa could mimic the European Union (EU) which traditionally negotiates trade policies jointly. This is seen in the open skies policy that the EU has within members of the union but negotiates jointly bilateral air service agreements with countries outside its member States.
Africa has its own open skies policy under the Single African Air Travel Market (SAATM) of which Kenya is a signatory. A report from airinsight.com says SAATM will "improve connectivity and integration of Africa through liberalisation of scheduled and non-scheduled air transport services removing all restrictions on traffic rights and frequency between city pairs for all African airlines."
Perhaps this is what Dr Ruto had in mind when he asked member States of the African Union (AU) to surrender certain powers to the continental bloc as part of reforms needed to make the body work. Perhaps that is what he intends when he speaks of de-dollarisation.
It is clear that Africa only serves the interests of extractive capitalists when it suits them and is usually abandoned at its hour of need. According to a report from the Norwegian Refugee Council on countries that require urgent humanitarian aid but are most neglected, African countries top the list. Among these are the DRC, Sudan, Burundi, Cameroon, Mali and Ethiopia. The worst hit is Burkina Faso where because of civil war, two million people are internally displaced and 4.9 million others in need of humanitarian assistance. A further 800,000 live in 23 blockaded cities.
The annual list of neglected displacement crises is based on three criteria: Lack of humanitarian funding, lack of media attention and lack of international political and diplomatic initiatives. Using these criteria, the Ukraine war crisis pales into insignificance compared to that in Burkina Faso. Yet the EU has closed ranks and come to the assistance of Ukraine. It is acknowledged that most global humanitarian efforts are now focused on Ukraine to the detriment of deserving African countries.
Africa has an abundance of resources. Trading within itself as envisaged by the African Continental Free Trade Area presents an opportunity for the upliftment of 30 million people out of extreme poverty. Following President Ruto's lead, leaders across the continent should now begin to push Agenda 2063 more aggressively with mantras such as "African Solutions for African Problems." Africa can only become a dynamic force in the international arena on its own terms. And these terms can only be negotiated by "an integrated, peaceful and prosperous Africa driven by its own citizens."
Mr Khafafa is public policy analyst