The Gleaner: KINGSTON, Jamaica – History will be made this Tuesday, September 7, when the inaugural CARICOM-Africa Summit takes place.

Kenya will host the virtual event under the theme ‘Unity Across Continents and Oceans: Opportunities for Deepening Integration’. President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, will chair the summit.

Plans for Kenya to host a CARICOM and Africa Summit in 2020 had to be put on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The summit follows on the Declaration by the African Union of the Diaspora as the sixth region of Africa.

Participants at the event will include heads of state and government of the Caribbean Community and the African Union; chairs of CARICOM and the African Union Commission, and the Africa Regional Economic Communities; the secretaries-general of CARICOM and the Organization of the African Caribbean and Pacific States; and the president of Caribbean Development Bank.

It is anticipated that the deliberations will institutionalise CARICOM-African Union collaboration. It is also expected that there will be an agreement to host the summits of the CARICOM-African Heads of State and Government bi-annually.

Expected outcomes could include greater economic trade and investment opportunities between Africa and the Caribbean; and solidarity in actions to address global challenges, including climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The African Union generously agreed to invite CARICOM to be part of the African Medical Supplies Platform for the acquisition of COVID-19 vaccines, which allowed the Community to benefit from bulk purchasing. The vaccines began arriving in CARICOM last month.

The summit follows a series of visits between the leaders of CARICOM and Africa, including the visits by President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo, and President Kenyatta to the Region in 2019; a reciprocal visit to Kenya by Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley, also in 2019; as well as visits to Namibia and South Africa by Jamaica Prime Minister Andrew Holness in 2018 and Kenya in 2019; and a visit to Ghana by Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Rowley, in 2020.

The workings of the Community have been the subject of study visits to the secretariat by the Southern African Development Community, and the secretariat has also hosted the African Union Commission, the Economic Community of West African States and the Southern African Customs Union.