Source: Africa urged to forge unity | The Herald June 14, 2019
Sydney Kawadza in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea
African states have been called to unite to meet people’s needs while attracting foreign investors and transforming into a global player. In a Governor’s Statement at the African Development Bank Annual Meetings being held at the Sipopo Convention Centre here in Malabo, Zimbabwe’s Finance and Economic Development Minister Prof Mthuli Ncube applauded the theme of the meeting saying it resonated with the thrust of the African Union to make Africa a borderless continent.
He said the theme was also in tandem with the Bank’s High 5 priorities, one of which is to “integrate Africa” adding that many regional groupings are characterised by uncoordinated initiatives, political conflicts and low levels of intra-regional trade.
The meetings are being held under the theme; “Regional Integration for Africa’s Economic Prosperity” and provide a unique forum for representatives of governments, businesses, civil society, think-tanks, academia and the media worldwide, to dialogue on key issues concerning Africa’s development.
“Research by the AfDB shows that intra-African trade is the lowest of all global regions at approximately 15 percent as compared to 54 percent in the North America Free Trade Area, 70 percent within the European Union and 60 percent in Asia.
“Integration is essential for Africa’s development as it brings with it a lot of benefits to individual countries and the continent as a whole, in that it strengthens competitiveness and trading capacity, market expansion and upgrading of value chains, as integration particularly.”
He said integration creates an appropriate enabling environment for private sector development while developing infrastructure programmes in support of economic growth, development and regional integration.
“It provides a framework for coordinating policies and regulations; it develops strong public sector institutions and good governance; it reduces social exclusion and develops an inclusive civil society and it promotes regional peace and security and political engagement among members.
“It (further) builds environmental programmes at regional level; strengthens the region’s interaction with other regions of the world; it improves a framework for coordinating policies and regulations; it develops strong public sector institutions and good governance and it reduces social exclusion and develops an inclusive civil society.”
Prof Ncube said it was pertinent to note that, in grappling with challenges facing regional integration efforts in Africa, proponents for greater unity identified involving business groups for its success.
He said professionals and other sectors of society should be more active in all integration issues while ensuring an appropriate balance between public and private economic initiatives, reconciling the sometimes conflicting interests of countries with diverse sizes, natural resources and economic performances.
Prof Ncube also called for the exploitation of Africa’s huge infrastructure gap necessitating African policy makers in their pursuit of greater integration, to advance their efforts towards promoting peace, security and socio-economic development, strengthening the capacities of institutional frameworks for intra-African trade, including improved co-ordination between the African Union and sub-regional bodies.
He said there was also need to put in place effective domestic mechanisms for monitoring national policies with regional frameworks need to be put in place.
“Inclusive development where no one is left behind especially the private sector and the informal trading networks is the way to go,” he said.