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African Union - Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus/New York (SRDC/NY)

The United States of Africa: The challenges, by Sipho Khumalo

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Sipho Khumalo

May 09 2007

The formation of a "United States of Africa" will dominate debate at the three-day retreat of African foreign affairs ministers which opened at Zimbali Lodge, north of
Durban, on Tuesday.

Fifty ministers are discussing methods of achieving political and economic integration on the continent, which would end with the formation of a union in
along the lines of the European Union.

The Chairman of the Zimbali conference, Nana Akufo-Addo, the Ghanaian Foreign Minister, said the union had been first mooted by the first president of
, Nkwame Nkrumah.

"This gathering gives us an opportunity to define where the union is now, where it is going and how to get there," he said, adding that the idea had found favour within many African states.

Already several regional bodies - including the Southern African Development Community and the Economic Community of West African States - had met to work out time frames to achieve free trade agreements and customs unions. The Zimbali discussions would feed into the African Union summit of heads of state scheduled for
Accra, Ghana, in July.

Officially opening the retreat, South African Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said the founding fathers of liberation in
had achieved the decolonisation of the continent, and that the challenge facing leaders was how to take the continent forward in the next few decades.

"It is upon us to take the continent forward. We want a united continent," she said.

However, she warned that no economic and political integration could take place while the continent was ravaged by wars and conflict.

"It is our collective responsibility to make sure that there is peace," she said.

This article was originally published on page 2 of The
Mercury on
May 09, 2007