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[IWS] AfDB: AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT REPORT 2014: Regional Integration for Inclusive Growth [16 December 2014]
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African Development Bank (AfDB)
AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT REPORT 2014: Regional Integration for Inclusive Growth [16 December 2014]
[full-text, 138 pages]
The Report’s main conclusion is that regional integration is still a relevant pillar for Africa’s development, although the global context has changed greatly since the continental goal was first introduced in the 1960s. The challenge going forward is not so much the formulation of new policies but rather the implementation of those formulated in the recent past. This will require political resolve and heightened institutional capacities. The policy arguments and main messages of the Report are summarized below:
· Africa’s overlapping memberships in regional economic communities is not a critical constraint to advancing the integration agenda. What is most crucial is the presence of functioning formal structures that ensure that the regional relationships have real meaning. For RECs to undertake inclusive regional integration policies, it requires greater commitment from member states in implementing them at the national level.
· African countries must be better linked through roads, railways, ICT, power infrastructure networks, and ports and harbours. But regional infrastructure development facilitates inclusive growth only when it supports productive employment, poverty alleviation and the reduction of inequality.
· A “coalition of the willing” approach should be encouraged in advancing the management of regional migration, instead of merely relying on immigration control. RECs should recognize regional qualifications, encourage regional pooling of skills and coordinate annual immigration quotas according to skills gaps in national labour markets. Additionally, regional policies should include equitable access to quality public health care and education for migrants as a key provision. Reducing the costs of remittances would also improve the prospects for recipient economies and the people left behind.
· The development of cross-border banking, capital markets as well as other regional financial infrastructure in Africa could lead to the economies of scale required for economic takeoff. This will require a stable economic environment and the use of rigorous standards that should not undermine institutions’ capacity to innovate and meet the needs of the underserved.
· Firms are now seeking their comparative advantages in niches that supply only portions of the global demand for goods and services. In light of Africa’s recent high growth, a number of opportunities for local firms to increase their supply of inputs into regional retail supply chains and commercial food activities have arisen. The growth of trade generates in turn domestic employment. Regional value chains can be a key avenue for inclusive growth in Africa.
Press Release 16 December 2014
African Development Report: 2014 edition now available
The 2014 edition of the African Development Bank's African Development Report, on the theme of "Regional integration at the service of inclusive growth", was officially launched Tuesday, December 16 at the Bank's headquarters in Abidjan.
In her opening address, AfDB Secretary General and Vice-President Cecilia Akintomide emphasized how "Africa's regional integration is a major pillar in theTen-Year Strategy of the Bank, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2014 as Africa's premier development finance institution."
Presenting the report, AfDB’s Acting Chief Economist and Vice-President Steve Kayizzi-Mugerwa highlighted the themes developed in it: regional integration and inclusive growth, regional institutions, regional infrastructure, regional migration, regional financial integration and value chains.
Indeed, this report puts regional integration under the spotlight as being necessary for Africa's development, recalling that this is an aspiration dating back to the independence period in the 1960s. Critically examining the developments that have marked these last 50 years in terms of economic and political integration, the publication underscores how much it needs to be stepped up. The world may well be radically changing, but African integration remains as topical as ever, concludes the Report, which also highlighted how much integration could stimulate sustained, inclusive growth.
The development of distribution networks and regional trade within global and African value chains into which the continent fits, institutional challenges, infrastructure – both tangible and "intangible" – indispensable to interconnect markets and boost competitiveness, strengthened financial systems, were among the challenges to the continent’s integration that were examined in the report.
The launch of the publication was also the occasion for a Davos-style discussion with three AfDB Executive Directors, Abdallah Msa, (representing Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, the Comoros, Gabon, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Chad), Dominic O’Neill (Italy, Netherlands and the United Kingdom) and Shehu Yahaya (Nigeria and São Tomé and Principe), and by Marlène Kanga, AfDB Central Africa Regional Director, and Sylvain Maliko, Acting Director of the AfDB’s NEPAD Regional Integration and Trade Department.
All five discussed the increase in migratory flows, while obstacles to mobility never cease to appear (particularly in Central Africa), and the looming gap between regional integration policies depending on whether they are carried out at national or regional levels.
The panellists did, however, note some progress, particularly with regard to infrastructure development and the free movement of persons, especially in the east and west of the continent.
To close the launching ceremony, AfDB President Donald Kaberuka focused on the respective national policies of African states: "More than infrastructure, it is political will that boosts regional integration in Africa," he said, before recalling that over the last 10 years the Bank had been ceaselessly financing road infrastructure throughout the continent, with the aim of interconnecting countries. He also lamented the fact that the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) seemed to be working disparately, struggling from a lack of coordination and resources to implement initiatives to further integration, because far too often national interests take precedence over regional ones.
"I recommend that all those interested in the challenges of regional economic integration in Africa and the opportunities arising from this integration read this report," said Kaberuka. "The Bank will continue to play a leading role in supporting the economic integration of Africa, while helping regional economic communities to create dynamic and attractive regional markets, so that every country in the continent, including the most landlocked and fragile, can benefit from interactions with global markets and from intra-African trade."
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