‘Together we can’: ITUC-Africa demands inclusivity of workers in AfCFTA

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*calls for the elimination of corruption, especially extortions at border points

By Michael Oche

The African Regional Organisation of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-Africa) has called on all stakeholders – governments, businesses, trade unions, and civil society, to ensure that African workers are not left behind in the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

The Regional Organisation noted that, “Together, we can make trade a catalyst for economic growth, job creation, and equitable development across the African continent.”

ITUC-Africa also called on AfCFTA member states to ensure that women, youth & Persons With Disabilities are represented in all activities in connection with issues on trade and investment (with a specific focus on the AfCFTA), industrialization and structural transformation in Africa.

These formed part of resolutions reached at the end of a 3-day capacity building and engagement workshop for Informal economy actors on AfCFTA held in Nairobi.

The resolutions, contained in a communiqué signed by ITUC-AFRICA General Secretary Kwasi Adu-Amankwah, noted that the AfCFTA represents one of the most ambitious and transformative initiatives ever undertaken on the African continent.

Launched in 2018, AfCFTA aims to create a single, unified market for goods and services across the vast expanse of Africa, with the potential to accelerate intra-African trade, stimulate economic growth, and promote the free movement of people across borders.

ITUC-Africa however, argued that the AfCFTA agreement is not just about governments and businesses; it is about the workers who drive the African economy.

As part of strategies for continuing engagement with governments across Africa, ITUC-Africa said it will renew and achieve the plan to drive a focused engagement with the African Union by establishing an ITUC-Africa Office in Addis Ababa as a liaison with the AU.

It called for the promotion of Occupational Safety and Health, social protection and elimination of SH & GBV and elimination of corruption, especially extortions at border points.

The communiqué reads, “ITUC-Africa will continue to advocate for policies and programmes that focus on sustainable production and value addition to promote economic transformation and sustainable growth. A renewed push for implementing the African Mining Vision (AMV) will be vital, including the advocacy for consistent investment in Research & Development.

“ITUC-Africa will encourage its affiliates to engage with their states to pursue and implement agricultural revolution through policies and programmes that guarantee sustainable food sufficiency and sovereignty and support employment and rural development.

“ITUC-Africa will Build, improve and strengthen the capacities of trade union activists that will support the creation of a pool of experts within trade union organisations (at national, sub-regional and continental levels) and network with other relevant CSOs on the Trade, Investment and industrialization, especially on the AfCFTA to properly follow up related processes and make alternative proposals in the interests of workers and populations.”

The ITUC-Africa recommended that member states of AfCFTA must establish National Implementation Planning Committees that include representatives of the Trade Union movement, women, youth and informal economy actors.

On its role, the regional organisation said it will rally Trade unions to adopt innovative organizing strategies for the informal economy workers both at the National, sub-regional and continental levels.

Our Correspondent reports that the capacity building workshop was part of activities lined up for the 5th Ordinary Congress of ITUC-Africa holding in Nairobi Kenya

The communiqué will be put before the 5th Delegates’ Congress of the African Regional Organisation of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-Africa), taking place in Nairobi, Kenya on November 28, 2023.