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“Putting Free Movement of Persons at the centre of Continental Integration”.
African Union Commission Department of Economic Development, Trade, Industry, Mining (ETIM)
Addis Ababa
138p., ill

All African states participate in regional integration through membership of one of the many regional and sub-regional organisations, the Regional Economic Communities, and the African Union. The states agree to cooperate by setting up of common institutions and having common rules to create stability, grow their economies, improve market efficiency, share costs of public goods or large infrastructure projects, and address other issues such as epidemics and pandemics as well as peace and security. Regional integration can also strengthen the voices of small nations that often face disadvantages in dealing with the rest of the world because of their low bargaining power and high negotiation costs. That is why regional integration is so important for Africa's small and fragmented states. These benefits notwithstanding, we witness slow progress in African integration in spite of the many interventions and projects to advance regional integration over the years. The third edition of the African Integration Report comes at a time when the Corona Virus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) continues to ravage economies around the world, and the continent is no exception. The economic impact of the pandemic on the African continent is already clear: the first recession in 25 years, with economic activity falling by more than 3% in 2020, according to a recent report by the World Bank. Returning the world to any kind of recognizable 'normal' will take years. In Africa, regional integration has long been viewed as a catalyst for long-term prosperity. With COVID-19 placing severe strain on economies across the continent, regional coordination can be an effective approach to manage the response and promote post-pandemic recovery. The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which has now been operationalised, has created a platform and dialogue to support this. In a COVID-19 environment that has been defined by the closure of national borders and the collapse of global supply chains, the continent will become more interdependent than ever. While COVID-19 has slowed down regional integration, Africa was not performing well even before the pandemic, as documented in the previous African Integration Reports. According to the 2020 and even the 2021 African Integration Report, the level of integration on the continent is low overall. This Report takes cognisance of the significant evolutions in the regional integration process and ambitions of the AU and the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and the challenges faced over the past year. The AU has expressed enhanced ambitions for its regional integration agenda and launched major continental initiatives - the flagship projects - that are captured in Agenda 2063, as well as revitalising its work towards the attainment of the goals of the Abuja Treaty through the AfCFTA. While assessing the integration process, this Report captures the opportunities and challenges that come with these significant developments in the African regional integration agenda. The Report provides a comprehensive and structured review of the status of integration and gives innovative policy recommendations for accelerating the ongoing regional integration process. It is an initiative by African Heads of States and Governments to refocus the discourse on integration and related emerging issues, and make recommendations to achieve an “integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, representing a dynamic force in the concert of nations.” As numerous as the challenges of African integration may be, the report shows that Africa is advancing towards achieving this goal and ultimately creating the African Economic Community (AEC). The African Union Commission (AUC) and the RECs shared their experience for the joint preparation of the report, and this collaborative approach added considerable value. Preparing the report sheds light on the technical and institutional barriers that call for action on the part of African leaders to speed up the process of regional integration...


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