AU Commission Deputy Chairperson Erastus Mwencha told Xinhua in Nairobi that one of the reasons is the fear by some nations that they may lose if Africa becomes a single market.
“So researchers need to come up with data to show that Africa will gain once the continental free trade area comes into force,” Mwencha said on the sidelines of the African Economic Research Consortium’s (AERC) Biannual Research Workshop.
The five-day event brought over 200 researchers, academics, and policymakers to discuss issues relevant to Africa’s economic development.
“The Africa continent is not prioritizing integration as much, yet this is actually our rescue,” Mwencha said.
“A fully integrated continent will create a single market of one billion people with an expanding emerging middle class,” he noted.
Mwencha said that the issue of regional integration not going as fast as it should be has a lot to do with the political economy.
“So we need to remove fear so that policy makers understand that if integration is well managed all African states will emerge stronger,” he said.
He noted that as a result of slow integration, intra-Africa trade stands at around 12 percent of total trade, while other regions are at 50 percent.
The AU official said that moving goods from one African nation to another is very difficult.
“This is because our trade routes were designed to move goods to other continents and not within the continent,” he added.
The merger of three African regional economic blocs through a tripartite agreement was supposed to be completed in 2014. “This has not happened as some of the member states have not fully embraced the idea,” Mwencha said.
The AUC official said that economic integration will mean that some countries will lose some sectors and gain some sectors depending on their level of competitiveness.
“So we must find a way to accommodate the losers so that their resources are directed to other productive sectors of the economy,” he said. Enditem