President Juan Manuel Santos has stated that strengthening relations with Africa is a priority for his government, local media reported Thursday.
With this purpose, the head of state on Thursday opened the third World Summit of Mayors and President’s of African descent in Cali, capital of the Valle del Cauca department. The city houses the largest population of this ethnic group in Colombia and the second largest in Latin America.
Speaking in the auditorium of the Valley Event’s Center Pacific Cali, Santos emphasized the importance of the “strengthening of political and trade relations with Africa.”
“Our trade relations are still in their infancy,” explained the President. “Last year, Colombia exported approximately $450 million worth of trade to Africa, which indicated that there is huge potential to grow.”
The head of state also noted that in sub-Saharan Africa, Colombia only has embassies in Kenya and South Africa, while sharing an embassy in Ghana with Mexico, Peru and Chile (Pacific Alliance). Santos said that he has asked his chancellor, Maria Angela Holguin, to extend their diplomatic presence in the region.
The summit, which is the first to be held outside of Africa, brings together mayors, governors, legislators, business leaders, academics and athletes of African descent.
Cali will host the first part of the meeting until September 16. The meeting will then continue in Colombia’s northern city Cartagena.