Prof Nshuti Manasseh speaking in Barbados at the Africaribbean Trade and Investment Forum organised by the Afreximbank
Rwanda’s State Minister of Regional Affairs has said that Africa and the East African Region should prioritize trade with The Caribbean region as a new strategy to reduce the costs involved in relying on the unfair rules of international trade.

Mr Nshuti was speaking at the first ever Africaribbean Trade and Investment Forum in Barbados on Thursday.

“Rwanda has a grand vision of finding home grown solutions to drive growth and development. That is why we are looking at the Caribbean, which is an area that we share a lot with in terms of strategies, such as tourism and attraction of investment. That is why we have to open up channels of cooperation and trade,” he said.

The Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley also noted that Africa and the Caribbean had the collective brainpower, creativity, discipline, resilience and capital to make a defining difference and called for the creation of air bridges between the regions.

Emphasising the importance of collaborating at various levels to facilitate development, she insisted that political cooperation, even though essential, was not sufficient to reverse the underdevelopment of Africa and the Caribbean.

“We, children of independence, have determined that we shall not allow another generation to pass without bringing together that which should have never been torn asunder. We face common battles from the climate crisis to the COVID pandemic, now to the third aspect of it, with respect to inflation and debt that threaten to tear too many of our countries apart and threaten to put back into poverty too many of our people,” said the Prime Minister.

“These travel dependent economies, whether in Africa or in the Caribbean, have literally been thrown on their backs and we seek to fight this battle of bridging and reclaiming our Atlantic destiny on both sides, at the very time when the travel and tourism industry is facing its greatest challenge in decades… We can choose to record that as but another major battle, or we can say as my country has done, even in the midst of an IMF programme, that if you do not seize our destiny now, we will never seize it,” added Prime Minister Mottley.

“It is not anticipated that we can reverse centuries in a few years, but it is anticipated that there are some who must claim the courage to jump off the ship and make it happen,” she continued.

Prof. Benedict Oramah, President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), announced the Bank’s intention to work with Caribbean governments to set up a Caribbean Exim Bank with an investment of US$700 million. That amount would be in addition to the US$250 million the Bank has already made available to support Africa-Caribbean trade and investment.

President of Afreximbank, Benedict Omara and PM of Barbados Moa Mottley shake hands after signing a cooperation agreement aimed at improving trade between Africa and the island nations
Although Caribbean countries like Barbados offer visa free travel to Africans, there is no direct flight between the two blocs Investors and the business community from Africa are tasking their governments to ensure easier and more affordable air travel between Africa and the Caribbean