Despite efforts to bring Africa countries together, the economic integration among the countries remained slow.
2019 African Regional Integration Index (ARII) released at the on-going Conference of Ministers in Morocco indicates that regional integration in Africa remains low.
ARII was set up to monitor and evaluate the status of economic integration among African countries and provides a basis for member States to track their progress.
It comes at a time when the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), an ambitious plan to boost trade across the continent, marks a momentous milestone for Africa.
The ARII findings reveal that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) is the most integrated region in terms of trade, with South Africa as the most integrated country on the continent.
In the five areas that were analysed, including trade integration, regional infrastructure, productive integration, free movement of people and macroeconomic integration, South Africa topped the ranking; with South Sudan as the least integrated mainly because of its modest performance in regional infrastructure and financial integration.
Meanwhile, integration in services contributed more than 53% of the continent’s GDP, but ratification of the protocol on the free movement of people has been slow.
This is despite the 2016 launch of the Common Electronic Biometric African Passport, and the AU Protocol on Free Movement of Persons.
The Continent’s large infrastructure deficit remains a major hindrance to intra-regional trade.
“It is up to Africans themselves to ensure that the initiative benefits them through hard work and efficient implementation of the mechanisms of the CFTA,” said David Luke, Coordinator of the African Trade Policy Centre, Regional Integration and Trade Division of Economic Commission of Africa (ECA).