COVID-19 presents unique opportunities to speed up Africa’s integration agenda and implementation of AfCFTA 

The Africa Regional Integration Index, ARII 2019, a brand new report collectively launched by the African Development Bank, UN Economic Commission for Africa, UNECA, and the Africa Union, AU, Commission launched the Africa Regional Integration Index report final week. The launch of the second version of ARII report, a joint initiative of the African Development Bank, AUC and UNECA, is necessary for Africa’s regional integration agenda. The first version of the ARII was launched in 2016 after a directive from the authorities of the three establishments to monitor regional integration in Africa.

The ARII tracks progress made by African international locations on regional integration inside their regional financial communities, RECs, and throughout Africa. ARII evaluates 5 dimensions of regional integration for the 54 African international locations and for the eight RECs recognised by the AU. It additionally calculates regional integration scores for the continent on the 5 dimensions, specifically commerce, manufacturing, macroeconomics, infrastructural, and the free motion of folks.

 

We imagine that sturdy monitoring and constant benchmarking will assist speed up regional integration, which is one of the important thing growth methods for the event of the continent. The thought isn’t to identify and disgrace these international locations and areas performing poorly in some of the scale however to establish areas the place international locations are performing nicely and the place there’s want for enchancment. Integrate Africa is one of the Bank’s High 5development priorities and the ARII is an ideal device that gives helpful data for the establishment’s intervention. COVID-19 has had a profound affect on the continent’s integration efforts. How we reply to this pandemic will decide how shortly we return to the laid down plans, failing which we run the danger of reversing the regional integration positive aspects achieved through the years. It additionally presents opportunities for us to hasten Africa’s integration agenda, particularly the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area, AfCFTA.

 

A quantity of regional member international locations’ economies are below extreme pressure. Economic exercise has been disrupted with key sectors bearing the brunt of the pandemic. Tourism-related industries equivalent to journey, conferencing, hospitality and leisure companies have been severely affected. For most industries, the restoration path shall be arduous. The report gives sure suggestions to deepen regional integration on the continent. Of the 5 regional integration dimensions, the continent is performing poorly on productive and infrastructure integration.

These two dimensions are crucial for the opposite three dimensions (commerce, macro-economics and motion of folks) to perform correctly. To enhance productive integration, the report recommends prioritising the event of regional worth chains and technological development, amongst others. Tackling non-tariff obstacles and elevated funding in analysis and growth are key if the continent is to be aggressive. There is a necessity to shut the infrastructure financing hole on the continent to enhance connectivity.

 

There is room for enchancment within the different dimensions and international locations are inspired to take benefit of the AfCFTA to enhance intra-African commerce. Macro-economic convergence is essential to facilitate convertibility of currencies and rising investments on the continent. There is room to reform immigration insurance policies with out compromising nationwide safety, to allow international locations with expertise shortages to faucet on the continent’s extra expertise pool. Moono Mupotola, Director of Regional Development and Regional Integration at African Development Bank.

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