Dec 31, 2008, 6:09 AM
So much has been said and written about regional integration, in both political and economic affairs, that the concept has virtually become common knowledge.
Development experts and African political leaders are all unanimous in their view that greater regional integration is the antidote to Africa’s dependency and stagnation.
This paradigm isn’t new. As far back as the 50s, Kwame Nkrumah had insisted consistently that a fragmented Africa would be the nemesis of the continent.
As fate would have it, due to his vision and tenacity, he was traduced and removed from power in bizarre circumstances.
But his vision has outlived him, taken up by a new generation of African leaders under the auspices of the African Union (AU), a transformation of the organisation of African Unity (OAU), which was in itself a parody of the Nkrumah vision.
The AU seeks to go the whole hog to get Africa integrated politically and economically.
Already, structures are being put in place to realize this dream; one of such structures is the proposed single African market.
Under this arrangement, there will be free movement of goods, persons, services and capital on the continent. In other words, there will be no internal borders.
A common African Central Bank is also in the offing, which is expected to manage a single African currency by 2021. All these are feasible, provided there is the will to pull them through.
If these plans succeed, then Africa will be able to hold her own against the rest of the world in the 21st century, and even beyond.
Also important is the need for African governments to make travelling by Africans within Africa visa-free.
Why does a Gambian need a visa to travel to South Africa or vice versa?
Africans must be encouraged to travel, work and live in any country on the continent without any immigration restrictions.
Our leaders should be wise enough to look into this matter, and give it all the due attention it deserves.
There is no greater sense of integration than when Africans of diverse nationalities are allowed to work, live together and inter-marry.
If such a bond is established, then it will be a lot easier to integrate on both the economic and political fronts.
“Marches alone won’t bring integration when human respect is disintegrating.”