Report: Africa achieves milestone in trade integration

African Integration Report comes at a time when the COVID-19 continues to ravage economies


The integration of African continent is well above average with five regional economic communities (RECs) demonstrating progressive efforts towards integration.


The 2021 African Integration Report shows that the East African Community (EAC), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) integration scores exceed 0.6 in a rating range between 0 and 1.


The other RECs, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD); and the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU) are just above the average of 0.5.


The lack of defined plans or programmes in certain dimensions of integration such as free movement, financial and monetary integration are the causes for the poor overall performance of the three RECs.


The report also shows that ECOWAS, COMESA and EAC performed best in trade integration, with scores above 75 per cent. The trio have been able to implement essential steps for achieving trade integration such as the free trade zones and a common external tariff, among others. At the infrastructural level, the RECs have almost similar developments.

This corroborates the general problem of infrastructure in Africa, which cannot effectively support the integration process. With an average progression of 63 per cent, no REC stands out significantly in terms of the achievements and progress made.


The 2021 African Integration Report whose primary theme looks at the “Putting Free Movement of Persons at the centre of Continental Integration,” shows that the average progress of the RECs in the implementation of free movement of persons is moderate at 0.68 on a rating scale between zero and one.


ECOWAS and EAC stand out from other RECs in the evaluations with respective ratings of ECOWAS (100 per cent) and EAC (96 per cent), all the other RECs score below 65 per cent. This can be explained by the difficulties experienced in either implementing the regional free movement protocols or the abolition of visas in their Member States.


The third edition of the African Integration Report comes at a time when the COVID-19 continues to ravage economies, with the economic impact of the pandemic on the African continent leading to the first recession in 25 years, with economic activity falling by more than three per cent in 2020, according to a recent report by the World Bank.


Regional coordination is therefore an effective approach to manage the response and promote post-pandemic recovery as a key catalyst for long-term prosperity.


In terms of monetary integration, the report shows that all the RECs are still struggling. SADC and EAC are making the best progress towards monetary integration with the establishment of preparatory institutions for monetary integration, such as a Monetary Institute and a committee for the harmonization of convergence criteria. On Environmental integration, ECCAS, SADC, ECOWAS and COMESA have scores above 60 per cent.


These RECs have been able to develop plans and programmes focused on environmental protection particularly in the context of climate change. ECCAS is more advanced with several institutions involved in environmental management

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