Senior African policymakers reaffirm the critical role of regional integration in economic transformation of African economies
The African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) held its twentieth Senior Policy Seminar from 12-13 March 2018 in Entebbe, Uganda in partnership with the Bank of Uganda on the theme, Rethinking Regional Integration in Africa.
The conference featured four presentations by thought leaders on the subject of regional integration. After two days of dialogue, Senior Policy Makers and other stakeholders, private sector, international organizations, academia and civil society from around the continent adopted a declaration as an affirmation of their strong commitment to accelerating regional integration in Africa.
Entebbe, 13 March 2018
We, African Senior Policy Makers and private sector actors assembled here at the AERC Senior Policy Seminar XX, held in partnership with The Bank of Uganda,
Recognizing the challenges that Africa is facing, especially demography (esp. youth employment challenges), geography (many landlocked countries), empowerment of women, climate change, limited diversity of African economies, among others;
Also recognizing that regional integration is lagging behind the Abuja Treaty time lines;
Further recognizing that regional integration should be thought of in its broadest and dynamic sense, including among other things, integration of goods and services markets, financial markets, labour markets and at all levels of society;
Also recognizing that deepening regional economic integration in Africa will require concerted and coordinated efforts, considerable financial resources, communication and sensitization efforts, particularly private sector and civil society and strong political will and commitment from African governments, subsidiarity and readiness to share accountability and responsibility;
Commending the vision and commitment of African Heads of State and Government to the integration agenda, as affirmed by their adoption of the Abuja Treaty of 1991, which became effective in 1994, that lays out the path to an integrated Africa;
Also Commending the African Union on its drive for a Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA), free movement, and single air transport market;
Having also noted the progress made to date in regional integration, beginning with the formation of the eight Regional Economic Communities (RECs) which have greatly enhanced trade and integration within the blocks, and that will serve as building blocks for the African Economic Community;
Further having noted the need to prioritize and harmonize policy, regulatory and governance frameworks across the continent, and the need to implement agreed integration pacts;
Mindful that private sector ought to be at the centre of regional economic integration, and underlining the need to foster alliances between states, private sector, women, youth and civil society actors in order to enhance economic governance for job creation;
Also mindful that, although deepening integration generates large economic gains overall, there is need to ensure the benefits are shared equitably to ensure inclusive growth and development, thus requiring mechanisms and institutions to shield vulnerable groups and populations, including women and youth;
Acknowledging the fact that all African countries are members of at least one regional economic block,
Affirm that regional integration is a fundamental pillar for Africa to realize her development aspirations as articulated in the SDGs and the African Union Agenda 2063;
Further affirm the need for political and economic stability and harmonious regulatory frameworks and governance mechanisms to deepen regional integration, especially enhancing regional infrastructure (roads, rail, energy, ICT, water), easing movement of goods and services across borders, facilitating movement of people and service providers across national boundaries;
Commend the critical role of African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) in capacity building for promoting evidence-based policies and generating the knowledge basis for decision making on such key economic policy issues as regional integration;
Recognize that many well-meaning declarations and strategies have largely not been fully executed, in part owing to the absence of mechanisms and institutions to address the varying and differing interests, costs and benefits, call for immediate action, and a sense of urgency in deepening African integration.
Further recognize that financial integration is essential for regional integration, thus the need for consolidation of disparate financial markets, including stock exchanges to finance major integration projects, and recognition of the central and enhanced role and leadership of regional development banks;
Committo undertake policy dialogue and consultations within our own governments, private sector institutions and civil society organizations to identify and address all barriers to intra-Africa trade (including trade in services), improve trade logistics, and ease movement of persons to scale up intra-African cooperation and boost regional industrialization and trade, and thus improve the welfare of our people.
Acknowledge African Economic Research Consortium and the Bank of Uganda for organizing this highly productive seminar.