Increased economic earnings could address integration challenges

KAMPALA, Uganda—Integration has become the new agenda that different regions with Africa or even at the global stage, different continents are fronting to leverage on their economic, social, and political limitations.

The African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) held its twentieth senior policy seminar from March 12-13 at the Lake Victoria Serena Hotel in Kampala, Uganda, in partnership with the Bank of Uganda in which senior African policy makers reaffirmed the critical role of regional integration in economic transformation of African economies.

Speaking at the event, the Governor Bank of Uganda, Prof. Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile said the challenge to regional integration is not coming together of various countries but to increase productivity and hence earnings of the economies.

He said this can only happen by improving the competitiveness of African economies. To this regard, policy makers committed to  undertake  policy  dialogue  and  consultations  within   own  governments,  private  sector institutions  and  civil  society  organizations  to  identify  and  address  all  barriers  to  intra-Africa  trade  (including  trade  in  services),  improve  trade  logistics,  and  ease  movement  of  persons  to  scale  up  intra-African  cooperation  and  boost  regional  industrialization  and  trade,  and  thus  improve  the  welfare  of  our people.

Further commitments were made to among other include; Affirm that regional integration is a fundamental pillar for Africa to realize her development aspirations as articulated in the SDGs and the African Union Agenda 2063; Further affirm the need for political and economic stability and harmonious regulatory frameworks and governance mechanisms to deepen regional integration, especially enhancing regional infrastructure (roads, rail, energy, ICT, water), easing movement of goods and services across borders, facilitating movement of people and service providers across national boundaries; Recognize that many well-meaning declarations and strategies have largely not been fully executed, in part owing to the absence of mechanisms and institutions to address the varying and differing interests, costs and benefits, call for immediate action, and a sense of urgency in deepening African integration and Further recognize that financial integration is essential for regional integration, thus the need for consolidation of disparate financial markets, including stock exchanges to finance major integration projects, and recognition of the central and enhanced role and leadership of regional development banks;

The Prime Minister of Uganda Ruhakan Ruganda said regional integration in trade services, finance and in labor markets is imperative for Africa’s transformation. He said the pursuit for integration in Africa is not new in the region because some initiatives in various sub-regions date back to about a half a century.
Ruganda said the question policy makers should be asking therefore is: What needs to change for Africa to realize deeper integration on the continent. 

He said since the continental framework regional integration was developed in the early 1990s and several parameters of regionalization and globalization have changed dramatically, a rethink of regional integration is therefore welcome and that this is where bodies like the African Economic Research Consortium.

To this end, Policy Makers converged to recognize the challenges that Africa is facing, especially demography (esp.  youth  employment challenges),  geography  (many  landlocked  countries),  empowerment  of  women,  climate  change,  limited  diversity of African economies, among others; and to further  recognize that  regional  integration  should  be  thought  of  in  its  broadest  and  dynamic sense, including  among  other  things, integration  of  goods  and  services  markets,  financial  markets,  labour  markets and at all levels of society;