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Africa’s regional integration under focus at AfDB annual meetings

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Africa’s regional integration under focus at AfDB annual meetings

“If we get integration right, Africa can develop with dignity and confidence,” African Development Bank (AfDB)President, Akinwumi Adesina, told journalists at a press conference to herald the bank’s 2019 Annual Meetings, due to open Tuesday in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.
The theme of this year’s meetings is Regional Integration for Africa’s Economic Prosperity.” Regional integration gained momentum with the agreement on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in March 2018 and is now at the threshold of its launch next month.

AfCFTA will constitute the world’s largest free trade area, consolidating an integrated market of 1.3 billion consumers with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of about $3.4 trillion. It is estimated that Africa’s GDP growth could reach six per cent a year in a continent without borders (UNECA).

Answering questions from journalists, Adesina said that the bank has invested around $1 billion through various initiatives, including cross border infrastructure, to move trade across African borders. Most has gone to small and medium enterprises – the engine of economic growth.
Cesar A. Mba Abogo, Equatorial Guinea’s Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, who co-hosted the press conference, spoke about the country’s efforts on the economic and infrastructure front, to connect markets in Central Africa.

“It is a real privilege to host the bank’s Annual Meetings… the bank’s High 5s – are very much in line with our development strategy between now and 2025,” Abogo said, revealing that the country’s road networks, both in Malabo and throughout the mainland, were better than across large parts of Africa. In addition, Equatorial Guinea has invested in social housing and will continue to improve human capital, through capacity building and training programmes, while recognising the challenges presented by skill shortages.

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