Business News of 2014-05-08

Africa Integration Colloquium opens in Accra

A three-day colloquium on Regional Integration organised by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and Third World Network-Africa is underway in Accra.

The colloquium, which is running from May 6-8, is on the theme: "Africa's economic Integration: Strengthening Internal Coherence and Resilience to External Challenges." It seeks to promote the integrity of Africa’s integration agenda from the threats and challenges of the international trade regime.

About 40 participants, including academics, policy makers and civil society, are attending the meeting. Speaking at the opening session, Dr Fareed Arthur, Advisor Strategic Matters Bureau of the Deputy Chairperson, Africa Union Commission, said Africa has no alternative but to integrate.

He said integration must no longer be treated as a political action but an essential economic transformation agenda to accelerate the pace of development. Dr Arthur said the leaders must come out of their country-centric shelves to focus more on continental issues that would help accelerate the pace of development in the countries.

He said integration would provide a large market for countries, and provide economies of scale for the continent’s industries to grow. Dr Joseph Atta-Mensah, Principal Policy Adviser, Capacity Development Division, UNECA, said the essence of the workshop is to increase awareness and advocacy on the importance of integration.

Dr Yao Graham, Coordinator of Third World Network, said many of the policy initiatives and their various elements did not seem to correlate and therefore lend themselves to various forces with different purposes that purport to be working to fulfill the same goals.

He said on the other hand, at the external level, the same African governments are either locked in or negotiating positions in international trade and investment agreements whose logic run counter to the integration agenda of the continent.

“Under lying all these are conflicting perspectives on the purpose and essence of economic integration driven by contrasting economic policy options applied in the post-independence history of Africa,” he said.

To this end, two specific objectives have been set for the colloquium. These are to contribute to a better and coherent framing of the elements of Africa’s integration Agenda and to strengthen African stakeholder and policy-maker interaction on the African integration and international trade regime.

Among topics being discussed are Regional integration and Structural transformation; Continental Free Trade Area; Regional Economic Commissions and Integration; Cross-border policy harmonization and the African Mining Vision; Gender Challenges of economic transformation; institutional challenges and agriculture, industry and mining.

It would harvest ideas from participants that would help put into a comprehensive framework economic integration in Africa.

Conclusions from the colloquium would be disseminated widely and subsequently there would be engagement with policy makers. UNECA and TWN-Africa are collaborating with the Council for Development and Social Research in Africa, CODESRIA, among other institutions to implement the project.

Source: GNA
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