By Richard Adorsu-
The 2019 Index, provided up-to-date data on the status and progress of regional integration in Africa in order to assess the level of integration for every Regional Economic Community (REC) and their member countries.
The report showed that although 20 countries scored above average, no African country could be considered well integrated in its region.
By these metrics, South Africa is Africa’s most regionally integrated country because it outperforms on productive and infrastructure integration but underperforms on the free movement of people. However its index score of 0.625 is way ahead of the second best country Kenya (0.444) and third Rwanda (0.434).
The report found that much more needed to be done to integrate regional economies to make them more resilient to shocks such as the current COVID-19 pandemic.
“Whereas the Index edition we are releasing today has data cut off points in 2019, the present COVID-19 pandemic has re-opened the question of whether enough is being done in advancing regional integration as a means to help Africa withstand systematic shocks such as the one being experienced today,” said Stephen Karingi, Regional Integration Division Director at the ECA.
“This index is both a measurement exercise and a call to action; to build resilient economies through integration,” he added. “It will identify the solutions needed to truly build an integrated Africa.”
Jean-Denis Gabikini, Acting Director of the AUC’s Economic Affairs Department, welcomed the collaboration in producing the Index. He noted that the Index covers issues of intellectual property, competition policy, investment and digital trade, which are critical to the successful negotiations of Phase II and III of AfCFTA.
“To achieve an “integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, representing a dynamic force in the concert of nations”, this ARII report will support AU Member States and RECs to address industrialization and value addition priorities for the development of the continent,” Gabikini said.
The African Development Bank’s Director for Regional Development and Regional Integration, Moono Mupotola, said the Index was a useful tool for tracking progress on the regional integration front and would help countries identify priorities to improve integration.
“The crippling effects of COVID-19 illustrate the need for enhanced production of African finished goods and services that can readily be traded across the continent,” Mupotola said.
David Luke, coordinator of the African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC) at the ECA pointed out that the productive and infrastructure dimensions of regional integration are intricately linked. Tackling these two dimensions along with implementing the AfCFTA would be a massive boost for trade, he said.
For Africa to succeed in its long-standing efforts towards closer economic integration, ARII 2019 recommended improve regional networks of production and trade by enhancing countries’
productive, distributive, and marketing capacities, and build innovative, regional value-chain frameworks in different sectors using improved technology, higher-quality inputs, and updated marketing techniques.
The Index ranks the level of integration of African countries within their respective RECs and also with the rest of the continent. It scores across five key dimensions: trade, productive capacity, macroeconomic policy, infrastructure, and free movement of people.
For New Africa Business News Richard Adorsu Reports, Africa Correspondent
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