Regional integration in Africa: key to transformation and development
Gathering for the African Economic Conference in Johannesburg,
leaders call on continent to seize the moment for wide-ranging
Johannesburg, South Africa – Heads of State and business and development experts from across the world will gather at the three-day African Economic Conference from Monday, October 28 to Wednesday, October 30 in Johannesburg, South Africa, to discuss regional integration and its role in boosting economic growth and human well-being on the continent.
The conference will be opened by Jacob Zuma, the President of South
Africa; Donald Kaberuka, President of the African Development Bank
(AfDB); and Abdalla Hamdok, Deputy Executive Secretary of the United
Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).
Africa has seen high levels of economic growth over the last decade,
however that growth has had limited impact on boosting competitiveness
and increasing the quality of life of ordinary people on the continent.
Weaknesses persist in the quality of institutions, infrastructure,
macroeconomic policies, education and adoption of new technologies,
while there are big gaps between its highest and lowest ranked
“This great gathering should do more than restate the case for
regional integration: it must examine how to push the African continent
to the next level, to become a global growth pole in its own right,”
said Donald Kaberuka, President of the African Development Bank.
“At a time of diminishing multilateral solutions, this is the sure
way to build resilience against external shocks. I applaud the steady
progress that has been made in areas such as tariff reduction. Robust
action is what is now needed on non-tariff barriers, trade facilitation,
and the movement of people. Africa has the political will and the
strategic vision to make this happen. The time is right.”
In addition, because of its focus on capital-intensive,
commodity-based industries, Africa has seen limited economic
transformation, with little investment in the manufacturing, services
and agricultural sectors. Due to these limitations, the creation of
jobs, markets and institutions required to help young women and men
build better futures has lagged behind.
“There needs to be a much broader definition of regional economic
integration. True, regional integration must include investments in
regional infrastructure, trade and labour mobility. But countries would
also gain by harmonizing regulations and standards, devising common
approaches to macroeconomic policy, job creation, and effective
management of shared natural resources for sustainable poverty reduction
and structural economic transformation,” said Abdoulaye Mar Dieye,
Director of UNDP Africa.
While the benefits of integration are now well-known and many of the
legal frameworks in place, the biggest challenge is how to further that
agenda. Among the major hurdles are harmonizing standards and
regulations, boosting human resource capacities and mobilizing
leadership and political will.
The African Economic Conference will look at the political economy of
regional integration and examine closely some of the practical
solutions to advance it. High-level dialogues will cover integration
issues ranging from finance to water resource management, fiscal
convergence and harmonization of social policies. Participants will also
be exposed to cutting edge research on all aspects of regional
integration based on new analysis from African researchers and
Participants at the conference will look at some of the trends and best practices unfolding across the continent.
“It is undeniable that regional integration will impel Africa to
economic transformation and industrialization. Capitalizing on natural
resources, industrialization can swiftly add value to the continent’s
exports and, therefore, stimulate job creation.” said Abdalla Hamdok,
the Deputy Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa.
Held every year and sponsored by the African Development Bank, the
Economic Commission for Africa and the United Nations Development
Programme, the African Economic Conference will also provide a unique
forum for in-depth presentations of policy-oriented research by both
established academics and emerging talents from the continent.
About the African Development Bank Group:
The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) is Africa’s premier development finance institution. It comprises three distinct entities: the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Development Fund (ADF) and the Nigeria Trust Fund (NTF). On the ground in 34 African countries with an external office in
Japan, the AfDB contributes to the economic development and the social progress of its 53 regional member states. www.afdb.org
Headquartered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa was established in 1958 with the mandate of promoting the economic and social development of its member States, fostering intra-regional integration, and promoting international cooperation for Africa's development. www.uneca.org
AfDB: Olivia Ndong Obiang, firstname.lastname@example.org, tel. +216 95 99 97 70
ECA: Mercy Wambui, email@example.com, tel. +251 92 10 14 767UNDP South Africa: Phumza Manqindi, Communications Officer, Tel. + 27 12 354-8050 firstname.lastname@example.org