Professor Emmanuel Nnadozie, Executive Secretary of the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), has reiterated that the key ingredient for accelerating and maximising the benefits of regional integration is effective leadership at all implementation levels in various countries.
He said visionary and effective leadership was critical for addressing institutional weaknesses, providing inspiration and clear direction to ensure that decisions were implemented fostering shared values towards African solidarity and pan-African ethos.
“Citizen-driven integration process certainly requires building the relevant capacity and a change in mindset by all the key actors,” Prof Nnadozie said when he spoke at the Regional Integration Issues Forum (RIIF) 2019 Policy Dialogue on ‘Enhancing national capacity for regional and continental integration in Africa’.
It is anticipated that the RIIF 2019 Sanitisation forum would build confidence of participants and produce increased stakeholders interest and commitment to implement regional and continental integration agenda for national development.
The two-day meeting was organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration in collaboration with ACBF and the Regional Integration in Africa (CRIA).
Prof Nnadozie said Ghana deserved a gold medal for being the champion of African integration and deserved an award for being the leader in pan-Africanism and African integration.
He said much had been achieved in advancing integration in Africa as exemplified by the progress being made in the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
“Yet, the overall pace of integration is slow mostly because integration’s most critical drivers and enablers—especially strong institutions and effective leadership—have ostensibly not received adequate attention,” he said.
He said the AfCFTA was the first agreement of its kind to bring together all African countries under a single Free Trade Area, with a focus on creating a common market for goods, services and investment whilst allowing free movement of persons.
He said estimates by ACBF and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) showed that the establishment of the AfCFTA would stimulate total African exports by four per cent ($25.3 billion) and result in an overall 52 per cent ($34.6 billion) increase in intra-African trade compared to the baseline of no trade reforms in 2022 – with expansion covering a wide range of sectors, including agriculture and agro-processing, industry and services.
The Executive Director said trade in industrial goods was expected to increase by 53 per cent between 2010 and 2022 with AfCFTA expected to cover a market of 1.2 billion people and a gross domestic product (GDP) of $2.5 trillion, being the world’s largest free trade area since the formation of the World Trade Organisation.
Prof Nnadozie said institutions that had not performed optimally in driving integration often had insufficient synergy among them.
He said enhancing institutional performance would require strengthening legal frameworks; identifying, strengthening and rationalising overarching integration institutions; developing more functional institutions and establishing critical ones such as the African Central Bank, the African Monetary Fund and the African Investment Bank. GNA