Instability remains the bane of Africa's socioeconomic development, Dr Vladimir Antwi-Danso, the Dean of Academic Affairs, Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College, has said.
Speaking to the Ghana News Agency in Accra, as part of activities marking Africa Day, on the theme: "Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa's Development", Dr Antwi-Danso described the theme for the celebration as very real, very positive; stating that no free trade area could work when the guns were smoking.
"One of the debilitating factors of the African unity is instability of the continent. Instability is a virus that does not augur well for integration at all, everywhere you have integration; the idea is to have free trade and infrastructure".
Citing Europe as an example, Dr Antwi-Danso said, when one enters a country in Europe, it was as if he or she had entered the whole of Europe, because they've removed barriers to free trade and free movement of persons.
Dr Antwi-Danso, who described the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) as the biggest achievement of the AU, also urged African countries to increase the volume of trade among themselves and to remove all barriers to free trade and free moment of persons.
"And when we remove all this (barriers) and build a continental union of trading partners, of factor mobility, intensity of trade, we are there. We are close to heaven but unfortunately the continent is dotted with myriads of spots of instability."
He mentioned conflict areas within the continent such as the Central African Republic, Libya, Algeria and Sahel region.
The Dean said the Sahel is the biggest spot of instability in the world apart from the Middle East and Afghanistan.
The Sahel region covers countries such as Mali, Burkina Faso, Algeria, Niger, Chad, Sudan and South Sudan.
Dr Antwi-Danso said if one looks at the Sahel region coupled with the instability it was going through, one could not build the AfCFTA in the midst of instability.
"Instability is the biggest virus before we talk about integration. And so, this year's theme is very apt; "Silencing the Guns", if the guns go silent then we are ready to take off in trade, in free movement, in production, in the market, in science and technology, the dreams of Kwame Nkrumah".
Dr Antwi-Danso said "Silencing the Guns", should be the first and foremost priority of the African Union.
He appealed to African Governments and the AU Commission, to ensure that the Union is made relevant to the ordinary African on the street.
Africa Day (formerly African Freedom Day and African Liberation Day) is the annual commemoration of the foundation of the Organisation of African Unity on 25 May 1963.
It is celebrated in various countries on the African continent, as well as around the world.
The organisation was transformed into the AU on 9 July 2002 in Durban, South Africa, but the holiday continues to be celebrated on 25 May.