The Centre for Regional Integration in Africa (CRIA) has urged African countries to shift from the traditional approach to integration, which does not appear to fit with the African situation, to development integration agenda.
Prof S.K.B. Asante, the Executive Director, CRIA said development integration encompassed cooperation among countries in a broader range of areas than just trade and trade facilitation that included investment, research and development, as well as policies aimed at accelerating regional industrial development and regional infrastructure provision.
“There is the need to reconsider Africa’s model of regional – building and regional integration to enable the continent to effectively respond to the capacity challenges of the 21st-century regional integration.”
Prof Asante said this at the Regional Integration Issues Forum (RIIF) 2019 Policy Dialogue on “Enhancing National Capacity for Regional and Continental Integration in Africa”.
Prof Asante said Regional Integration had for nearly six decades of African independence been an enduring appeal for the continent as the right strategy for overcoming the economic disadvantage of the small size of the African countries, low per capita incomes, sparse populations, narrow resource bases, growing transnational threats and of making possible a higher rate of economic growth and development.
“It is considered a key driver and the way forward for the structural transformation of African economies.”
Prof Asante noted that “regional integration is not a choice for Africa – it is a must”, as stressed in the 2014 Africa Capacity report.
He said this had triggered the creation of Regional Economic Communities (RECs) such as ECOWAS and continental bodies like the African Union (AU) as instruments of economic and political decolonization.
Africa’s region-building and regional integration were originally linked with Pan-Africanism as an economic cum political tool for achieving political emancipation of the territories.
It is now widely recognised as a necessary condition for the long term sustainable development of African countries.
It is anticipated that the RIIF 2019 Sensation Forum would build the confidence of participants and produce increased stakeholders interest and commitment to implement regional and continental integration agenda for national development.
The two-day meeting was organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration in collaboration with the CRIA and the Africa Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF).