- Latest edition of the ARII repot calls for concerted effort towards regional integration on the African continent.
- The report is a joint publication of the Economic Commission for Africa, the African Development Bank and the African Union Commission.
Africa needs to step up productive and infrastructural integration, participants heard at a regional presentation of the African Regional Integration Index (ARII)
With the commencement of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in January this year and the disruptive impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for a cohesive collaboration by African member states towards regional integration has much more than ever become imperative. So says a report presented to the tripartite region of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, the East African Community, and the Southern African Development Community on 15 April.
The index, which is a joint publication of the Economic Commission for Africa, the African Development Bank (AfCB) and the African Union Commission provides current data on the status of regional integration in Africa and xrays the level of integration for each regional community and its member states.
At the presentation of the African Regional Index (ARII), the need for Africa to step up its productive and infrastructural integration was highlighted as speakers called for the renewed commitment to regional integration within Africa
The Director of Trade at the East African Community Secretariat, Alhaji Rashid Kibowa, said the Index report had the potential of addressing the three major challenges currently bedeviling the continent; the Covid-19 pandemic, implementation of the AfCFTA as well as poverty alleviation.
“There is a need for more dialogue on the ARII and methodology issues to expand the scope of coverage of the assessed integration areas. The fundamental issues behind the ARII ought to be whether integration exists for Africa and whether it is effective in terms of achieving poverty reduction and socio-economic transformation for the continent,” he said.
Speaking on the report, Stephen Karingi, the Director of the Regional Integration and Trade Division of the East African Community said, “The latest edition of the African Regional Integration Index is not only timely but handy to help any African country identify its main strengths and weaknesses with its regional integration performance.”
On his part, Jean-Guy Afrika, the African Development Bank’s Acting Director for the Regional Integration Coordination Office, said the Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the vulnerabilities of the continent, especially the low levels of intra-African trade and the proliferation of non-tariff barriers.
“The continent will only grow economically if we allow the free flow of goods and services across our borders, allow free movement of people, and scale up regional value chains. As a matter of urgency, we bring down tariff and non-tariff barriers, encourage cross-border trade, and open the African skies,” Afrika added.