Putting together the puzzle of African integration
Putting together the puzzle of African integration: successes and exponential potential.
Over the past two decades, Africa has recorded an average growth rate of 4.6%, despite an unfavorable international economic and financial environment
Achieving African integration is not an end in itself. The aim must be to offer African citizens prosperity and security. The objective of regional and continental integration must allow African countries to benefit from economies of scale, to trade with each other, to move freely across the continent and, above all, to benefit from the common objectives of the Agenda. 2063 of Africa, aiming at shared prosperity, unity and integration. The commemorative activities for the African Integration Day, which kicked off on July 7, will examine in detail the state of continental integration and in particular the role of continental integration in accelerating Africa’s economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Over the past two decades, Africa has recorded an average growth rate of 4.6%, despite an unfavorable international economic and financial environment. The current COVID-19 pandemic, however, has plunged the continent into its first recession in 25 years, exposing the vulnerability of African economies. Africa’s cumulative loss of GDP is estimated at between $ 145 billion and $ 190 billion with worrying projections that an additional 39 million people could be pushed into extreme poverty, if urgent and targeted measures are not taken to do so. faced with the socio-economic difficulties caused by the pandemic.
The acceleration of the African economic recovery has highlighted, once again, the need to piece together the puzzle of African integration. With a fragile recovery based on the health, economic and financial measures that member states have swiftly implemented to curb the spread of COVID-19 and mitigate the related economic and social consequences, the Africa Development Dynamics report shows that the continent will experience positive growth of 3.4%. Although positive, the return to growth remains well below the minimum threshold of the 7% target to accelerate socio-economic transformation as envisaged in Agenda 2063.
For the continent to advance positively in post-recovery efforts to rebuild better, stronger and strengthen Africa’s resilience in the face of this pandemic and future pandemics, HE Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, President of the Republic of Uganda and champion of regional integration in Africa, notes that Africa can be prosperous only through the production of goods and services and, above all, by ensuring that its continental market is integrated from the 55 micro-markets to trade under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) common market. “How will the 1.4 billion Africans be prosperous?” You can only be prosperous through the production of service goods, but this prosperity can only be guaranteed by entering the market. Integration should not only be a slogan, but should enable us to overcome poverty and underdevelopment through production where people are assured of markets for their goods and services. Another key factor is strategic security.
With economic integration, we (Africa) will be in a better position to overcome the negative effects of the pandemic
The launch of trade within the framework of the African Continental Free Trade Area in January 2021, demonstrated Africa’s political will to make regional integration a tool for development and to reposition Africa in the environment. international by redefining its mode of insertion in international trade, and not only as a simple supplier of cheap raw materials and importer of industrial products, but as a producer and exporter of finished goods with high added value. HE Moussa Faki Mahamat, President of the Commission of the African Union, affirms that “achieving a productive transformation obliges us to accelerate the implementation of the flagship projects of Agenda 2063 in areas with high growth potential in the areas of agriculture, infrastructure, energy, industry and services. Particular attention should be paid to the creation of continental value chains connected to global value chains. Making AFCFTA a production community will ultimately enable us to accelerate economic growth and ensure our food, industrial and medical sovereignty to meet the emerging challenges that are looming on the horizon.
Economic integration goes hand in hand to facilitate an increase in Africa’s share of world trade and competitiveness. Amb. Albert Muchanga, AU Commissioner for Economic Development, Trade, Industry and Mining, observes that with AFCFTA, the common market would create a vast market space of 1.3 billion people capable of attract large-scale and long-term investments and, in the process, change people from low productivity agriculture to higher productivity industrial activities thus leading to poverty reduction in rural areas and also, create prosperity in urban areas. “In this market, what will be very characteristic is intense competition for all companies that want to operate in this market and it is good for increased productivity, in addition, it will prepare these companies to be competitive in the global scale. With economic integration, we (Africa) will be in a better position to overcome the negative effects of the pandemic. “
African integration foresees that every African citizen should enjoy the benefits associated with regional integration and, in this regard, enable the free movement of people across the continent, a conducive business environment and favorable conditions that enhance skills and the capacities of the workforce, in particular those of young people and women. Dr. Amany Asfour, Acting President of the African Business Council notes that for African integration to become a reality, it is mandatory to invest in our African private sector. “The private sector uses policies and an enabling business environment and special preferential purchasing, at least 40 percent of public purchases of African products. If we are to increase intra-African trade and strengthen industrialization, we must invest in our own resources, including human resources to engage our youth and women.
The need for Africa’s health independence through the production of essential drugs needed to fight disease and pandemics has been repeatedly emphasized to address the heavy unhealthy dependence on external health care. . As of July 2021, less than 2% of Africa’s population had access to COVID-19 vaccines, calling for unity of goals for the continent to achieve economic independence.
Watch the opening session of the three-day commemoration of African Integration Day 2021 here.
Credit: African Union