Patterson calls African, Caribbean leaders to action at Afreximbank meeting in Nassau

FORMER JAMAICA Prime Minister, Percival J. Patterson, delivered an impassioned call to action as they deliberated at the 31st Annual Meeting of the Africa Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) in Nassau, Bahamas. Addressing leaders from Africa and the Caribbean, Patterson emphasized the urgent need for collaborative efforts to achieve socio-economic growth and integration.

My message simply is: time for talking, done. Time for action, now. And let us begin with this conference in Nassau,” Patterson declared, setting a hopeful tone for the meeting.

Patterson, alongside former Nigerian President Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, participated in a panel discussion titled ‘A Time to Pause and Reflect: A Global Africa Vision for Afri-Caribbean Socio-Political and Economic Cooperation and Integration – Perspectives of Former Leaders’. He passionately advocated for forging a new path and financing their own development, emphasising that “nobody will stop us if we act as one”.


During the summit, Patterson noted that African and Caribbean leaders identified six areas of focus during the summit in Barbados three years ago. “First of all, on the political level, we have to fight to change the United Nations and its structure,” he said, noting that the Security Council is the powerhouse for peace and security. When any of its members is interested, “we see the inability to act. Africa has no position at present,” Patterson said, adding that Africa and the Caribbean must relentlessly demand change.

The 54 countries of Africa, 14 countries of the Caribbean, 68 of us, we must demand that Africa has a permanent seat in the Security Council,” Patterson said, adding that the two regions must also demand an overhaul of multilateral lending institutions.

They call themselves donor agencies. Donor agencies give. Donor agencies do not lend to be paid back. And our whole economic system is crooked. They create special drawing rights and they get the bulk of them. They don’t respond sufficiently to COVID and climate change challenges.”


Patterson’s vision extended to transforming the remnants of the slave trade into robust trade of goods and services between Africa and the Caribbean. “The slave trade must be converted into a trade of goods and services,” Patterson said, pointing out that Africa only accounts for three per cent of world trade, and the Caribbean, 0.5 per cent. He advocated for increased intra-regional commerce without external permissions. “We don’t need anybody’s permission; we can trade among ourselves,” he affirmed.


Emphasising the power of knowledge, Patterson stressed the importance of education and technology. He cited the enduring wisdom of Jamaican reggae legend Bob Marley and Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie, reminding the audience that “we are advanced in knowledge”. Patterson called for an education system that reflects the rich heritage and civilisations of Africa, asserting that knowledge and technological advancement are crucial for the region’s development.


Connecting the health of the region to its economic prosperity, Patterson echoed sentiments from a 1993 meeting of Caribbean leaders in Nassau, stating, “The health of our region is the wealth of our region.” He expressed concern over the delay in holding the second Africa-Caribbean summit, emphasising the importance of maintaining focus on regional development.


Both Patterson and Obasanjo underscored the significance of acting as a unified bloc. Patterson reminisced about the success of negotiating as a single entity during the 1970s European Union negotiations, which showcased the strength of unity. He emphasised that Africa and the Caribbean must continue to act together on political, economic, and social front, to achieve their shared goals.

Despite concerns about the pace of progress since the first Africa-Caribbean summit three years ago, Patterson’s address was filled with optimism. He emphasised the significance of maintaining focus and momentum, advocating for a unified bloc on political, economic, and social fronts.


Obasanjo paid tribute to Afreximbank for opening an office in the Caribbean, a historic move that symbolises the deepening ties between Africa and the Caribbean. He called for increased collaboration between the African Union and CARICOM, highlighting the potential for these institutions to work together and achieve remarkable progress. “We have to do more of what Afreximbank has done,” Obasanjo encouraged.

Chief Olusegun Obasanjo reinforced this sentiment, urging immediate action to overcome historical challenges and harness collective strengths. “We have outsourced our development for too long. Now is the time for political action. Let this conference mark a turning point,” Obasanjo said, acknowledging Afreximbank’s pioneering role in bridging Africa and the Caribbean.

As the conference drew to a close, there was a palpable sense of hope and determination. Leaders committed to working together to transform visionary ideas into tangible actions, setting the stage for a prosperous and integrated future for Africa and the Caribbean.

As the three-day meeting integrated with the Third AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum (ACTIF2024), the leaders expressed optimism for the future, envisioning a strengthened partnership that would drive socio-economic growth and development for both regions. With a clear message of unity and action, Patterson and Obasanjo’s words resonated with hope and determination, inspiring a new era of collaboration and prosperity.

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