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Regional integration is the way to go

Nov 2, 2012, 10:13 AM

We sincerely agree with the experts at the ongoing African Economic Conference in Kigali, Rwanda, who on Thursday agreed that Africa would need to strengthen regional integration in order to boost increased Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) on the continent, because it creates larger domestic markets and stimulates trade, two elements that can attract FDI.

“At a time when China, India, Brazil and other large emerging markets are taking on such a prominence in the global economy, we must surely focus the minds of African policymakers, particularly from smaller, landlocked countries, on the importance of pushing forward the regional integration agenda”, said Andrew Mold, a senior Economic Affairs Officer of ECA at the conference.

Mold said that attracting FDI in Africa could be facilitated by the adoption of appropriate trade and macroeconomic policy regimes that promote regional integration activities.

He noted that by banding together through regional integration arrangements, member countries can enhance their bargaining power in international economic relations.

Policy makers at the conference showed a wide consensus that regional integration in Africa is the way to go.

John Rwangombwa, Rwanda’s Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, said that in the continued uncertainties of the global economy, Africa must present itself as the most profitable and secure destination of investors’ funds that are scared of the problems in the Western markets.

One thing that is very clear today is that the world of tomorrow is not one of small nations, and that no small nation will in the long run be in the forefront of global competition, hence the need for integration.

This is our fervent belief, given the fact that despite its vast resources and market, our sub-region and the continent in general has little to show in terms of integration.

We have always emphasized on these pages that we must become part and parcel of the global order, where regions unite their efforts at promoting growth and economic development.

Our sub-region and the continent, in particular, have to rely more on itself by boosting its productive sectors, and increasing trade among member countries.

Without this, we will only be enriching others, and making ourselves poorer every day.

As Africans and West Africans, in particular, we need to harmonise our laws and all security-related policies.

Our leaders, who from time to time meet to discuss about the sub-region and the continent, should put more emphasis on cooperation in key areas, notably trade and free movement of people and goods.

In the field of transport, our leaders must ensure that vehicles move freely between countries in the sub-region and the continent. They should have direct access to our respective capitals.

As the world continues to grapple with the effects of the economic downturn, our part of the world must not stand aside, merely watching.

There should be smooth unhindered movement of vehicles and people transporting goods from one country to the other.

Unless we integrate, our sub-region and the continent, in particular, will find it very difficult to save its people from poverty using its resources.