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ECA Report Urges Africa To Deepen Regional Integration For Economic Benefits

The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), says African countries have made commendable progress in implementing the regional integration agenda and promoting intra-regional trade.

Mr Stephen Karingi, ECA’s Director, Regional Integration and Trade Division, in a statement, however, said more work was needed to accelerate the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).

Karingi said efforts should also be doubled for the ratification of the protocol on the free movement of persons, right of residence and right of establishment.

He said this in his presentation on the assessment of progress on regional integration in Africa.

The report was based on monitoring frameworks and tools, including the indicators developed by the ECA, the African Union (AU) Commission and the African Development Bank (AfDB).

It was presented to experts meeting ahead of the March 20 to March 21 ministerial segments of the Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development taking place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

“Member states will need to address integration challenges, which include inadequate financial resources, poor infrastructure networks, increasing violence, terrorism and political instability.

“Furthermore, the integration agenda is experiencing slow implementation of policies and agreements. For instance, the Protocol on Free Movement of Persons, Right of Residence and Right of Establishment needs ratification.

“This is because it is the bedrock of deepening integration as it interacts with the ability to move goods and services and help to optimise the AfCFTA,” Karingi said.

According to the director, collective efforts are required from all Member States, regional economic communities, key partners and stakeholders to realise the economic benefits of integration and the AfCFTA,” he said.

Karingi said to support Member States in their formulation and implementation of economic policy and enhance macroeconomic integration, ECA developed a prototype macroeconomic model and provided support and training in 15 countries.

He said on the fiscal side, ECA supported taxation policy reform and revenue collection in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia.

“Africa remains constrained by huge infrastructure gaps, with an estimated annual financing need of between 130 to 170 billion dollars, and an annual financing gap of between 68 billion dollars to 108 billion dollars.

“But improvements are reported in access to information and communications technology constituting an important driver of the African infrastructure development index.

“Digitalisation in Africa was further accelerated by the pandemic, creating greater potential for trade and business growth.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and the war in the Ukraine have however, worsened public deficits and the debt burden, which have reduced infrastructure investment in Africa,” Karingi said.

According to the director, energy price increases exacerbated by the war in Ukraine, has put a strain on African countries in particular on those that are net energy importers.

He said energy demand on the continent was mainly driven by Nigeria, South Africa and North African countries.

He said that participants from Burkina Faso, Chad, Tanzania, Cote d’Ivoire and Tanzania, raised concerns about the worsening insecurity, poor infrastructure, high cost of communication across the borders hindering the integration process.

Acting Executive Secretary of ECA, Antonio Pedro, said collaborative efforts, from the United Nations, AU, and regional economic communities been deployed to respond to threats to peace and security.

He said efforts had also been deployed to participate in the management and resolution of conflict, and to stem the tide of terrorism and coups on the continent, albeit with mixed results.

Pedro said the ECA had continued to fight the spread of violence, terrorism and drug trafficking while showcasing the opportunities available in the region.

The acting secretary said this was done in West Africa and the broader Sahel area, through its West African office in partnership with the AU, ECOWAS and other key players.

“To foster regional integration in Africa, ECA will continue to prioritise the support provided to Member States, regional economic communities, AU Commission and AfDB toward implementation of the free trade area,” Pedro said.(NAN

Short URL: https://www.africanexaminer.com/?p=86250

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