Tag Archives: Regional Integration

Challenging the Frontiers of African Integration.

Standard

SID President Juma Mwapachu New Book On Regional Integration.

Challenging the Frontiers of African Integration:Dynamics of Policies,Politics and Transformation in the

East African Community, a new book on regional integration by Ambassador Juma V.

Mwapachu,Society for International Development’s President,formerly a Secretary General of the EAC is a must

read for the political elite,civil society,private sector as well as scholars and students of integration,says the 6th

Secretary General of the Organization of African Unity,now African Union and  5th Prime Minister of Tanzania,

Dr.Salim Ahmed Salim.

Arguably the foremost proponent of a ”United States of Africa”,an idea ostensibly first put forward in Hail,a

1924 Marcus Garvey poem,Col.Muammar Gaddafi’s cherished dream of a federal United States of Africa in all

its impracticality did resonate with me,albeit only to a certain extent.Today,an integrated Africa however sounds

more like it.Overlooking his leadership shortcomings,Gaddafi who was labelled a ‘Mad Dog’ by the

West,developed Libya without seeking financial aid from western-dominated aid  agencies.Kwame

Nkrumah and Julius Nyerere too were major proponents of African unity.Need I belabour the fact that Africa is

the richest poorest continent?

Africa can feed itself.

    

 

                                             Africa can feed itself.

Published in October this year,a new World Bank report; Africa Can Help Feed Africa:Removing the

barriers to regional trade in food staples proposes that if  countries on the continent remove cross-border

restrictions and embrace more dynamic inter-regional trade,Africa could feed itself.Moreover,Africa could as well

generate an extra US $20 billion in yearly earnings if trade barriers between its countries are done away

with.Increased inter-regional trade trade,the report says,would have farmers meet the continent’s rising food

demand which is set to double by 2020 as rural-urban migration increases.The report also cites more job

creation in services such as distribution,reduction of poverty and cutting back on expensive food imports should

Africa intensify inter-regional trade.Of all African countries’ imported cereals,only 5% come from other African

countries.60% of the world’s remaining arable land is in Africa.About 400 million hectares of this land  remains

uncultivated.Baffour Ankomah reports in the New African May 2012 issue that the development prospects of

Africa are intrinsically linked to the performance of the agricultural sector,and therefore,contrary to the

prescriptions of the economic orthodoxy once called the ”Washington Consensus”,African governments should

get more actively involved in the agricultural sector,if the continent is to achieve overall development.Most

African economies are agro-based.Agricultural labour comprises 59% of the total labour force and 13% of value

added to GDP in 2009.Something to note though:while prioritising Agriculture should be the way

forward,diversifying the economy is an added plus.Removal of trade barriers (price controls,export,import

bans,variable import tariffs and quotas) between African countries to enhance inter-regional trade would also

mean free movement of food between countries and from fertile areas to those where communities are suffering

food shortages.Africa’s staple food production is valued at at least US $50 billion yearly.I couldn’t help but

question why the word ‘help’ was and is in the report title though..As at 2008 an estimated 3.5- 4 million

Kenyans in urban areas were food insecure,about half the same number (1.3 million) in rural Kenya.The

Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture today puts the figure of starving Kenyans at 4 million annually.

Until recently,West Africa saw the greatest amount amount of international interest in exploration and

production whilst the East Africa region saw much less investment and research into its geological potential.All

this has now changed as  potential for oil and gas discoveries across the region  has seen it take the spotlight as being one of the world’s final and

most exciting frontiers for oil and gas exploration.With companies like Royal Dutch Shell,Tullow Oil,ENI,Galp

Energia,Cove Energy and BG Group making inroads into the region,pundits say development of regional

infrastructure for the oil and gas boom would have all and sundry benefit from the available opportunities.

Of course if the dreaded oil curse is avoided.

Reportedly,Africa receives $40 billion in ‘dead’ aid annually.A 5% increase in intra-African trade would give us in

excess of $400 billion per annum.Thus laying emphasis on the need for  African integration.Talk of Africa

transforming Africa.The book as a matter of fact underscores African integration as an effective strategy in

mitigation of poverty and promotion of inclusive economic prosperity.46% of Kenyans  today  live below

the poverty line.According to World Bank Africa,today,there are 22 African countries with a total population of

about 400 million people which have attained middle income status,with most,Kenya included,to follow suit by

2025.That is if  the current trend of yearly GDP growth of 5-6% continues,reckons World Bank

Economist,Wolfgang Fengler.A country becomes a middle-income country when it surpasses the $1000 GDP

per capita threshold.(World Bank). African Development Bank  qualifies anybody with an annual income

exceeding $3,900 (Kshs.331,500) to be in the middle class category.African countries are however way too

dependent on  Western capitalist economies to the extent that they are blind to the economic gains of African

integration thus low intra-regional trade.Thanks to the so-called globalized economy.Today,Africa’s GDP stands

at $2 trillion.Without South Africa and Nigeria,sub-Saharan Africa accounts for a mere 1.3% of world GDP,2.5 if

South Africa and Nigeria are included.So much for redistributive effects of a globalized

economy.

In East Africa’s case in particular,touted as the next frontier for gas and oil exploration, there’s lack of

understanding and knowledge about the integration process by politicians and constituents (citizenry) as

well,writes  SID’s Ahmed Salim in his review of the book as regards some of  the challenges pointed out by

Ambassador Mwapachu.The previous stages of integration(Customs Union,Common Market) too haven’t as fully

been implemented yet.Overlapping membership,poor infrastructure(East Africa is said to have the worst

transport network in Africa) and poorly developed financial markets are the other conspicuous bottle-

necks.Political stability,rather the lack thereof in individual countries,cannot be wished away either.

Regardless of the challenges of African integration,here’s some food for thought:”While we are divided in

European languages (read Anglophone Africa,Francophone Africa,Lusophone Africa etc), the natural

owners of those wonderful languages are busy building a united Europe.” -Julius Nyerere.

Sources:Society for International Development,East Africa.( http://www.sidint.net ),Africa Review http://www.africareview.com World Bank;Press Release No:2013/113/AFR, http://www.eaogsummit.com.

Advertisements