All African countries will be better off with regional integration than without it, the African Development Bank (AfDB) has said.
The bank’s Director of Research, Hanan Morsy disclosed this at the launch of one of the Bank’s flagship reports in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, where the financial institution is currently hosting its 4-day Annual Meetings.
Launching the 2019 African Economic Outlook, Morsy said current levels of growth were not adequate to generate jobs for millions of unemployed Africans, but regional integration could stimulate the growth needed to make a dent in unemployment.
Africa needed to grow between 4 per cent and 6 per cent in order to turn the tide against poverty and unemployment, according to him.
Reading the Outlook, Morsy said Central Africa’s real income could increase by as much as 7 per cent , while the East Africa, currently the star performer on the continent, would experience an increase of around 4.2 per cent, followed closely by North Africa.
“While there are differences in gains, all African countries are better off with regional integration than without,” Morsy said.
The Outlook predicts that Africa can add 4.5% to its GDP, provided that governments do away with bilateral tariffs and non-tariff barriers and keep rules of origin simple.
The launch included a panel discussion by Finance and Economic Planning Ministers, who are also Governors of the Bank.
Aïchatou Kané, from Niger, said the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), was in the “fast lane” of integration and planned to have its own currency in 12 months.
Regional integration is one of the AfDB’s High 5 strategic areas and the theme of the 2019 Annual Meetings.
The Africa Continent Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement is the cornerstone of the integration project. The AfCFTA was launched in March 2018 and the key 22nd ratification was received in April 2019. The next step is for African ministers of trade to work on how to facilitate the launch of the AfCFTA during a summit meeting on 7 July 2019.
Over 2,000 ministers, government officials, development partners and civil society representatives have gathered in the island capital to discuss Africa’s development agenda.
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