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The 9th High-Level Forum on Security in Africa was held from 19-24 October 2020 on the theme “The AfCFTA: Revitalizing Pan-Africanism for Sustainable Peace and Development in Africa”. The discussions during the Forum underscored the need for a continuous dialogue on governance, sovereignty and compliance with jointly agreed rules in the context of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). African countries are facing the difficult task of re- defining state sovereignty in the context of an increasingly integrating continent. The AfCFTA will have a transformative impact on trade configurations, but also on cultural identity and the social fabric of the continent. Moving ahead will require huge trade-offs from political leaders: they must think beyond short-term election cycles, align continental objectives with their domestic agendas and abstain from populist, nationalist or protectionist rhetoric. All this, given the current pandemic that prompted governments across the globe to advocate for protectionist approaches and closing borders.

The implementation of the AfCFTA will further have a profound impact on security in multiple ways. While the respect for states sovereignty permeates the AfCFTA Agreement and gives them autonomous rights to act to protect their security, economic integration will nonetheless necessitate a closer collaboration in addressing cross-border security challenges such as transnational organized crimes, countering violent extremism and migration management. For instance, the increase in freedom of movement is going to provide organised crime unfettered access to 55 countries. If not addressed effectively the implementation of the AfCFTA could instigate a surge in trafficking of contraband, people and narcotics. This calls for increased lateral collaboration mechanism between the Regional Economic Communities (RECs)/Regional Mechanisms (RMs) with overarching supervision from the AU APSA mechanism. It further draws attention to the future role of institutions such as the African Mechanism for Police Cooperation (AFRIPOL). One thing is certain: the implementation of the AfCFTA will change the framework condition of peace and security on the continent and the relevant APSA players must adapt accordingly.