Colombia Strategy 2022-2026 Vice President Francia Marquez


BOGOTA, COLOMBIA 

Background

The Republic of Colombia’s historic election and transition to a popular government led by President Gustavo Petro and Vice President Francia Marquez not only marks an unprecedented window of opportunity for improved diplomatic and economic relations within the region, but also the possibility of seeking further rapprochement with African countries on the other side of the Atlantic. The political will and impetus for developing these new pathways to cooperation has never been more lucid than in Gustavo Petro’s very own presidential inauguration speech, in which he declared:

“We will seek greater alliances with Africa, where we originate from; 
we will seek an alliance of afro-descendant communities in the Americas.” 
– President Gustavo Petro, Inauguration Speech
(“Buscaremos mayores alianzas con África, de donde provenimos; 
buscaremos una alianza de pueblos afros en Ámerica.” 
- Presidente Gustavo Petro, discurso de inauguración)

Gustavo Petro’s call to action for a “Colombia of possibilities” creates an avenue to leverage our joint strengths and aspirations to face the challenges of the 21st century. During the election campaign and her activist history, VP Francia Márquez often leveraged the African idea of ubuntu (humanness) to promote interdependence within and between societies. In these unprecedented times of pandemic, climate change, supply chain, and monetary risk, the need to reinvigorate South-South Cooperation has never been more pronounced.

Contemporary Colombia-Africa Relations

The Republic of Colombia’s current “Guidelines for Colombian Foreign Politics” state the mandate of “sharing experiences in important issues for African development”. Colombia’s experience has been shared through the programs regarding Disarming, Demobilization and Reintegration allowing the development of important progress in terms of cooperation with countries such as Liberia, Somalia, Eritrea, Burundi, Uganda, Rwanda, Angola, among others. Colombia makes institutional presence in sub-Saharan Africa through the Embassies in South Africa and Kenya.

More recently, the Colombian Presidential Agency for International Cooperation (APC-Colombia) has signed a Financial Contribution Agreement with the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) within the framework of South-South Cooperation to bolster technical assistance for programmes across Africa. This agreement paved the way for the exchange of best practices, building local lasting capacities and technical assistance in different areas such as; environment, risk management and resilience; emergent technology and research; agriculture; and food security and nutrition, among others.

Partnership and Engagement

Colombia Strategy 2022-2026 Vice President Francia MarquezThe Pan-African Council partnered with Colombia’s Office of the Vice Presidency to support Colombia’s first high-level visit to the African continent after a 26-year hiatus with the aim of strengthening diplomacy, cultural, business and entrepreneurial ties. Colombia’s first Vice President of African Descent, Her Excellency Francia Márquez, led a delegation of some 60 representatives to South Africa, Kenya and Ethiopia this May.

The Council’s piece on CNBC Africa highlights the country’s desire to expand the number of embassies it has in Sub-Saharan Africa, creating a foundation for future political, cultural, and economic partnerships. The visit also provided a unique opportunity for African countries to assert their individual and collective interests through enhanced international cooperation.

Opportunities for South-South Cooperation

Colombia lags considerably behind countries like Brazil in trade and political ties with Africa. Colombia and African countries can better explore and exploit their comparative advantages in goods and services. In the context of exploring new and innovative multilateral and bilateral agreements, there’s a unique opportunity for Colombia to partner with African countries in achieving Agenda 2063 and by also sharing its expertise in areas such as renewable energy, water management, and information and communication technology.

Currently, countries across Latin America are diligently seeking to position themselves as highly competitive actors in the geopolitical landscape. Colombia is well-positioned to take the lead on Africa-Latin America relations for the Spanish-speaking world as the country seeks to improve its education and cultural exchanges, economic competitiveness, attract trade and investment, and promote themselves as major tourist destinations. African countries, in turn, aspire to rebrand and transform themselves into an influential economic, touristic, environmentally sustainable region with a vast pool of natural resources and human capital.

Activities

As part of the Colombia’s 2022-2026 Africa Strategy, the Council supported the first-ever Colombia-South Africa High-Level Business Forum, the Kenya-Colombia Business Forum (hosted by the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce & Industry), the cultural industries roundtables and events (including Mandla N’s Media City Studios South Africa, collaborative music camps for artists, and the Bomas of Kenya Artistic Evening), the Ubuntu Unity Colombian and South African Cultural Heritage Celebration, the My Roots in Africa Tree Planting Ceremony and Leaders’ Breakfast at Karura Forest with the Hon. Governor of Nairobi Sakaja Johnson Arthur, Wanjira Mathai VP of the World Resouces Institute, Most Influential People of African Descent (MIPAD) leaders Kamil Olufowobi and Mwende Mbevi in a ceremony to foster the reconnection with the African diaspora in Colombia and reaffirm our joint commitments to nature preservation and environmental protection. The My Roots in Africa tree planting initiative gives the Diaspora an opportunity to connect with the roots in Africa while reducing carbon emissions through the regreening of the planet.

Colombia Strategy 2022-2026 Vice President Francia MarquezThe high impact trip resulted in over two dozen memorandums of understanding, bilateral and cooperation agreements signed across South Africa, Kenya, and Ethiopia.

We extend a special thanks to the entire Pan-African Council team, the Embassies of Colombia in South Africa and Kenya, as well as other partners including Most Influential People of African Descent (MIPAD), TAP Magazine, MHM Media, Rubiez & Pearlz VIP Logistix, and Masters Of The Industry (MOTI Africa) who graciously supported the trip agenda.

We further wish to congratulate the Republic of Colombia on their historic engagement with Africa and for taking the bold step of strengthening of South-South cooperation.

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Media Contact:

Tatiana Mensah
media@panafricancouncil.org