Africa has a significant way to go if all countries are to reach the frontier of what the best performers are achieving in the area of regional integration.
Out of all the Regional Economic Communities, the East African Community was cited as the most-integrated.
The greatest divergence in regional performance is in the area of financial integration and macroeconomic policy convergence.
Interestingly, countries with the largest economies do not always perform the best.
The Africa Regional Integration Index (ARII) Report, Africa’s first effort to measure progress on regional integration, was launched in Addis Ababa during African Development Week.
The weeklong conference, convened by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the African Union Commission (AUC), discusses some of the most important policy issues relating to development.
The ARII is collaborative effort between the African Development Bank (AfDB), the AUC and ECA to collect data on the impacts of regional integration.
Although regional integration is often cited as a key component of economic transformation, up until now, no mechanisms existed to systematically measure how different African countries and regions fared. This flagship report assesses the current situation on the continent and highlights the best practices and gaps.
The ARII looks at 16 indicators across 5 broad dimensions which are trade integration, productive integration, regional infrastructure, free movement of people, and financial integration.
The indicators measure important aspects such as share of intra-regional trade as a % of total trade, and proportion of intra-regional flights to name a few.
Countries that scored highly in a number of dimensions include Kenya, South Africa, Cote d’Ivoire and Cameroon.
Fatima Haram Acyl, the AUC Commissioner for Trade and Industry stressed the importance of using Africa’s own data to measure regional integration.
“Through the Index, the AUC, AfDB and ECA are bringing the continent’s integration goals within closer reach. Findings show that while progress is being made with 28 top performing countries across the eight Regional Economic Communities, average integration scores stand at below half of the scale. It is time for Africa to build on this and drive regional integration ever further forward.”
Commenting on the Index, Stephen Karingi, Director for Regional Integration, Infrastructure and Trade Division at the Economic Commission for Africa explained that the index is both a measurement exercise and a call to action.
“It is for everyone interested in Africa’s prospects: regional and national decision-makers, policymakers, researchers, business leaders, civil society, development partners, the media and the public. It will identify where solutions are needed to truly build an integrated Africa,” he adds.
“The index is intended not only to be a monitoring and evaluation tool, but also as a dashboard for policy makers on regional integration issues. By facilitating access to critical information on regional integration, the ARII will improve the quality of policy making in Africa as it pertains to regional integration,” says Dr Charles Lufumpa, AfDB Acting Chief Economist.
For more information log on: www.integrate-africa.org