Africa must step up productive and infrastructural integration as part of the process of economic recovery from COVID-19, a report suggested.
The African Regional Integration Index (ARII), a joint publication of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the African Development Bank and the African Union Commission, provides up-to-date data on the state of regional integration in Africa.
The report assessed the state of regional integration and the efforts of member countries of the eight regional economic communities recognized by the African Union.
The report welcomed the recent endorsement of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) by more than 50 African countries. “It’s time for quantum leaps. Regional integration is the glue that will make this happen.
AfCFTA is a free trade area founded in 2018, with trade starting January 1, 2021. It was created by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement between 54 of the 55 countries of the African Union.
Africa’s economic growth is expected to exceed 4% in 2019-2020, up from 3.5% in 2018.
The report says that for free trade to take place transparently, African countries must implement the Protocol on Free Movement of People, which in turn will allow traders and investors to operate beyond their purview. national borders.
Driven by the AfCFTA, more than 40% of African countries are expected to post growth of at least 5% this year as commodity prices rise and domestic demand and infrastructure investments drive growth, according to the report.
Jean-Guy Afrika, African Development Bank Acting Director for the Regional Integration Coordination Office, said: “The continent will only develop economically if we allow the free flow of goods and services through our countries. borders, the free movement of people and the intensification of regional value chains.
“We urgently lower tariff and non-tariff barriers, encourage cross-border trade and open the African skies,” Afrika added.
Alhaji Rashid Kibowa, Director of Trade at the East African Community Secretariat, said: “There is a need to intensify the dialogue on ARII and methodological issues to broaden the scope of coverage of integration areas assessed.
“The fundamental questions behind ARII should be whether integration exists for Africa and whether it is effective in terms of poverty reduction and socio-economic transformation for the continent,” Kibowa said during the conference. presentation of the report held virtually last week.
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