African Integration for Growth & Development

Writer    :    Tanzania Ambassador To Abuja Msuya Waldi Mangachi     PUBLIC LECTURE ON “AFRICAN INTEGRATION AS A KEY FACTOR FOR FOSTERING SOCIO-ECONOMIC GROWTH AND DELOPMENT”, BY H.E. AMBASSADOR MSUYA W. MANGACHI – TANZANIA HIGH COMMISSIONER TO NIGERIA,  AT NIGERIA NILE TURKISH UNIVERSITY, ABUJA, 6 DECEMBER, 2012. The vision of Pan-African integration could be traced from a series of Pan-African Movement conferences from 1900 to 1945 in London and other cities. The focus of the deliberations at those early Pan African  conferences was the need to intensify the  struggle against colonialism with the aim of attaining independence for African countries and the rights of black people in Africa and the diaspora.  The 6th Pan-African Congress in 1945 was particularly significant because it took crucial decisions that shaped the political trends in Africa. That conference was attended by many personalities that eventually led the struggle for independence in their respective countries including Jomo Kenyatta and Kwame Nkrumah of Kenya and Ghana, respectively. As a result of the independence struggles in the 1950s, most African countries attained their independence between 1957 and 1963. However,  the independence struggles took longer in a number of countries, such as in the Portuguese colonies of Mozambique, Angola, Sao-Tome and Principe, Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde Islands; the British Colony of South Rhodesia, Apartheid regime inSouth Africa; Namibia and the Spanish Colony of Western Sahara. Therefore, when the African leaders met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 25th May, 1963 and established the Organization of African Unity, the issue of the support to the liberation struggles in the remaining colonies was given high priority.  The African leaders also discussed at length on the need to integrate the African continent politically, economically and socially. The debate centred on whether the political unity of the continent should be realised immediately or be built gradually through sub-regional groupings. The debate was heated, with President Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana arguing for an immediate continental unity, while President Julius  Nyerere of Tanzania argued for a step-by-step approach to unity, through the establishment and consolidation of  regional economic communities. Ladies and gentlemen, Many scholars today agree that the OAU’s most significant political achievement in its 40 years of existence, was the liberation of all countries that were still under the yoke of colonialism when OAU was established in 1963, with the exception of  Western Sahara. As you are aware, the decolonization process in Western Sahara was complicated when Morocco and Mauritania invaded and occupied it, following the withdrawal of Spain from that country in 1976. Although Mauritania later withdrew, Morocco continues to occupy Western Sahara in defiance of the African Union which recognises the independence of the Saharawi Republic under the leadership of POLISARIO. The AU is working closely with the UN to find an amicable solution to the West Saharan issue based on the proposal to give the people of Western Sahara opportunity to determine the future of their country through a referendum. In the economic field, the main initiative taken by the OAU was the adoption of Lagos Plan of Action in 1980 which charted Africa’s future development course.  . The LPA gave primacy to the development of agriculture, industrialization and trade, mining, industries, human resources development and science and technology, on the basis of self reliance. Furthermore, the OAU Heads of State and Government passed the special Final Act of Lagos, aimed at achieving an African common market by 2000. It was argued that without such economic integration and cooperation, it would be impossible for Africa to achieve any meaningful alternative development as a way out of the economic crisis. Ladies and gentlemen, The importance given to economic cooperation and integration led African leaders to transform, within ten years, the Final act of the LPA to the Abuja Treaty establishing the African economic community in 1991. As you are aware, the 1991 Abuja Treaty provides a road-map for the establishment of an African Economic Community by 2028, using RECs as building blocks. The Abuja Treaty further stressed that RECs should establish Free Trade Areas and Customs Unions, eventually evolving into a Common Market covering the whole continent. In the same vein, it is recommended that RECs should be rationalized and harmonized in conformity with the OAU political geographical sub-regions i.e. Northern, Western, Eastern, Central and Southern African sub-regions. In this respect, Africa’s current integration landscape still contains an array of RECs, in spite of the efforts made by the African Union in 2005 to formally recognize only eight (8) RECs, namely: ·                    The Arab Maghreb Union (UMA), ·                    The Community of Sahel-Sahara states (CESAD), ·                     The Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), ·                    The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), ·                    The Southern African Development Community (SADC), ·                    The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, ·                    The East African Community (EAC), and ·                    The Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD). Apart from these eight RECs, the continent currently has fourteen other inter-governmental organizations working on regional integration issues. Ladies and gentlemen, A quick performance assessment indicates that integration progress in the major RECs is rather mixed. Some RECs, such as ECOWAS, COMESA, SADC and the EAC have made significant progress in trade liberalization and facilitation. In this context, ECOWAS and EAC have also made considerable progress through issuing of regional passports to facilitate free movement of people. Unfortunately, free movement of people in other RECs is still more restricted, as it is pursued on a country-to-country basis rather  than regionally. Furthermore, ECOWAS and SADC have undertaken some conflict resolution and peace-keeping initiatives. In this regard, ECOWAS, through ECOMOG, deserves to be commended for having been instrumental in restoring peace and stability in Liberia, Sierra Leone and other conflict areas in the region. Unfortunately, progress in the other RECs has been rather slow. For example, while ECCAS is struggling to resolve organizational and operational problems, in Northern Africa, AMU has been dormant and the current political crisis affecting some members, casts doubts on the prospects for an early revival of AMU. The main challenges facing the RECs are proliferation, deepening integration within the RECs and forging cooperation with other RECs. Regarding proliferation, it is quite obvious that having multiple groups complicates the work of harmonization and co-ordination with the aim of achieving the fusion of the RECs into a single African Economic Community. This has prompted calls to rationalize integration. Concerning deepening integration, it is regretted that most of the RECS have not developed beyond the stage of Free Trade Area.  So far, only the East African Community has established a Customs Union (in 2005) and proclaimed a Common Market in 2010. It is therefore urged that RECS should consolidate the free trade areas and move to the stage of Customs Union and Common Market in order to facilitate the establishment of an African Common Market in the near future.  In this regard, it is encouraging to note that, last year, the leaders of the EAC, COMESA and SADC took an important decision to the effect that, instead of waiting for all the RECs to reach the Customs Union stage before harmonizing their trade regimes, the three RECs should establish an integrated market at the level of Free Trade Area. This would obviate the need for maintaining three separate Secretariats and reduce costs of doing business. Furthermore, the establishment of the Tripartite Free Trade area (FTA) will bolster intra-regional trade by creating a wider market, increase investment flows, enhance competitiveness and develop cross-regional infrastructure. It is expected that other RECs will emulate this example and deepen inter-regional cooperation so as to accelerate the process of establishing an African common market. Ladies and gentlemen, The focus of a majority of the regional integration schemes in Africa has been on trade and market integration rather than production of goods and services and infrastructure. However, the economic structure in Africa is skewed towards the production of raw materials for export to the metropolitan countries and importation of the industrial goods and machinery needed in these countries.  In other words, since all African countries have similar primary products with no complementarity between them and since there are not many manufacturing or processing industries to absorb them, inter and intra-regional trade is very low.  To overcome this challenge, it is advised that the RECs should endeavour to attract investments for the establishment of industries, based on the locally produced raw materials and other natural resources.  These measures would serve to create jobs and add value to the raw materials and produce semi-processed and finished industrial goods for the regional market and for export to other countries. This is considered to be one of the most effective ways Africa can meaningfully participate in and draw benefits from the world market. In my book on  “Regional integration in Africa: East African Experience”  it has been stressed that the regional integration schemes should not only confine themselves to the area of market integration but should broaden their activities to include infrastructure, industrial development, agriculture, environment and socio political issues like peace and security, good governance, democracy and human rights. The AU study on the Minimum Integration Progamme (MIP) supports this approach. The MIP is a compendium of priority sectors and activities to be undertaken by the RECs in order to the accelerate the regional integration process  and shorten the timeframes fixed by the Abuja Treaty, in accordance with the spirit of the Sirte Declaration. Ladies and gentlemen, You all recall that at the special OAU Summit held in Sirte, Libya  on 9.9.1999, the African leaders took the crucial decision to transform the OAU into African Union so as to enable the African continent cope effectively with the challenges of globalization and liberalization of the world economy. After the preparatory meetings in Lome, Togo (2000) and Lusaka, Zambia (2001), the African Union was formally launched in Durban, South Africa in 2002.  Essentially the AU Constitutive Act incorporated the OAU Charter principles and included new principles to ensure peace and security in the member states. In this regard Article 4 (h) of the Constitutive Act principles  provides for “the right of the Union to intervene in a member state pursuant to a decision of the assembly in respect of grave circumstances, namely: war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.” In the same vein Artcle 4 (m) provides for “respect for democratic principles, human rights, rule of law and good governance” and Article 4(p) condemns and rejects unconstitutional changes of governments. Hence the position taken by the ECOWAS and the AU Peace and Security Council to condemn recent coups in Mali and Guinea Bissau is in accordance with the AU Constitutive Act. Another important decision taken when establishing the AU Constitutive Act was the creation of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). NEPAD’s priorities include: peace and security, democracy and good governance, regional cooperation and integration, capacity building and mobilizing resources for investment in agriculture, infrastructure, promoting diversification of production and exports particularly with respect to agro-industries, manufacturing, mining and tourism. Although most of the NEPAD projects are still in the pipeline, NEPAD has done a commendable job in implementing the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM). APRM’s mandate is to ensure that the policies and practices of participating countries conform to the agreed values in the following four focus areas: democracy and political governance, economic governance, corporate governance and socio-economic development. So far 30 AU Member states have joined APRM out of which 14 countries have been peer reviewed. Concerning peace and security, in an attempt to establish a common defence policy for the African Continent, each geographical region has been tasked to establish regional brigades that can be deployed for AU peace-keeping missions when needed.  So far, the AU maintains peace-keeping missions in Somalia and Darfur, Sudan in collaboration with the United Nations. The AU also carried a successful operation to restore peace in the Comoro Islands in 2008. Currently, the UNSC has passed a resolution endorsing the deployment of ECOWAS regional force to restore peace and order and the territorial integrity of Mali. The main challenge facing AU peace-keeping missions is lack of resources. In this regard the AU is grateful for the support rendered to its peace-keeping missions by the Development Partners. It is important that the International Community continues to provide more assistance to the AU to enable it accomplish the task of restoring peace and security in all the countries experiencing political crisis. For, without peace and stability investments and other development activities cannot be carried out. Ladies and gentlemen, At this juncture, it is important to relate the process of regional integration with the Turkish approach to deepen cooperation with the African countries. As we are all aware, Turkey has had a long engagement with Afrca going back to the Ottoman Empire. Those relations declined substantially after the Ottoman Empire in the 19th century. Turkey’s opening up to Africa was revived in 1990s with the adoption of the African Plan of Action. Turkish relations with Africa improved further when Turkey announced 2005 as “the year of Africa” and hosted the first Turkey-Africa Summit at Istanbul in 2008.  The main objectives of the Summit were to strengthen Turkish-Africa relations and expand economic relations with Africa particularly in the fields of investment and trade. The Summit concluded by adopting two documents: “The Instanbul Declaration and “ The Turkey-Africa Partnership Framework document”. Another Turkish-Africa Summit will be held in 2013. Meanwhile Turkey has increased its trade and financial aid to Africa, both through international agencies and its own Official Aid and Cooperation Agency-TIKA. Regarding trade, while Turkey’s trade volume with African countries which was only US$5.4 billion in 2003, exceeded US$ 16 billion 2009. According to the Turkish Confederation of Business and Industrialists (TUSCON), Turkish exports to Africa consist of furniture, apparels, iron and steel, electrical devices, textiles, processed food and construction materials. Turkey’s imports from Africa consist of oil, raw materials, gold and other minerals. While urging for more trade with and more investments from Turkey, it is advisable that more investments should be directed towards processing Africa’s raw materials in order to add value to the goods before exporting them. These measures would create more jobs and improve earnings for African processed goods. In the long run the trade imbalance would also be reduced. It is encouraging to note that in 2008 Turkey TIKA initiated an African Development Programme to help develop agriculture in Africa. This project covered 13 African countries, namely Burkina Faso, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Senegal Comoros, Madagascar, Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda. It is important that this programme is expanded to cover other crucial sectors such as infrastructure, manufacturing, mining, tourism and social sectors like education and health. TIKA currently has three offices in Africa, namely in Ethiopia, Sudan and Senegal. From these offices TIKA covers 37 counties in Africa. In this context TIKA can reach more countries through the African Union, African Development Bank (ADB). NEPAD and the Regional Economic Communities like SADC, COMESA, ECOWAS, ECCAS and EAC. It would also be advisable to co-ordinate the TIKA development efforts in Africa with the initiatives made by other development partners such as TICAD, Europe - Africa, China-Africa, India-Africa, South-America-Africa cooperation processes. It is expected that, through the support of the development partners, the process of Africa’s development can be accelerated for the benefit of the African people. In conclusion, I would like to stress that regional and sub-regional economic cooperation and integration is crucial for the acceleration of development in Africa. Given the fragmentation of the continent into 54 countries, some of which are too small to be economically viable, it is imperative for the African countries to come together so that they could collectively face the daunting challenges of the global market. The argument is that, given the pressures of globalization, it would be better and more rewarding for the countries to compete as regional blocks than as individual nations. Divided, Africa cannot compete meaningfully with larger economies like the United States of America, the European Union, Russia, China, India or Brazil. Through regional integration, African countries can pull their resources together and improve their bargaining power vis-a-vis the larger economies. In this regard, the establishment of the African economic space, inter alia, through RECs, leading eventually to a continental common market and economic community should be further consolidated.

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