The African Union (AU) recently launched the Africa Regional Integration Index Report 2019 indication the level of integration on the African continent. As African countries ready themselves to trade under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), it perhaps important that occasionally we look at the status of the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) more so as they are viewed as building blocs in Africa’s integration.
The Key findings of the Africa Integration Index Report 2019.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC), and Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) have low scores; The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS); Economic Community of Central African States ECCAS moderately integrated; Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) performs best in the free movement of people, as most of its members have committed to liberalizing mobility on the continent.
According to the report the East African Community (EAC) is relatively well integrated, and also performs pretty well in terms of n the free movement of people dimension.
The Arab Maghreb Union (AMU) is the regional economic community in Africa with the smallest number of member states, is moderately integrated and even though It differs from other regional economic communities in that its weakness lies in the free movement of people and it performs relatively well on macroeconomic policies.
The Report’s Recommendations
The Report makes a couple of recommendations to address some of the challenges in Africa’s integration such as low productions, inadequate infrastructure, financing and barriers to cross border movement of people[ and skills].
First, to address sluggish production, the report suggests better cross-border cooperation among public and private stakeholders and building innovative regional value-chain frameworks in different sectors.
Second is identifying skills gaps and developing cross-border skills enhancement programs. In this regards the report argues that the extent to which countries and regions will benefit from regional and global value chains depends on the skills of their populations: more precisely, on how well workers’ competencies match the technology and production capacities.
Third is long-term, coordinated planning to develop and maintain basic regional infrastructure and logistics. This the report suggests can be done by looking look to innovative approaches to financing infrastructure.
Fourth is addressing the free movement of people and macro-economic integration. The report indicates that when people move from places where there are no jobs to places where labour is in high demand makes production more efficient and fosters social links that fuel regional integration in turn.