Nairobi, Kenya, 19 July 2016 (ECA)-The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) yesterday launched one of its flagship reports, the Africa Integration Index (ARII), a bold attempt to provide data on the status and progress of regional integration on the continent.
The report, unveiled at the ongoing 14th United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD 14) in Nairobi, is a product of strong collaboration of the African Union Commission (AUC), African Development Bank (AfDB) and the ECA.
The commitment of African countries to regional integration is evident in regional initiatives such as the work of the Regional Economic Communities, the launch of the Continental Free Trade Area and the Boosting Intra-African Trade (BIAT) Action Plan.
The Index seeks to provide a means for tracking progress in terms of the different dimensions of regional integration, including trade, movement of people, productive capacity, monetary and financial integration and infrastructure.
The current report gives an assessment of the current status of integration across the continent and highlights areas of success and gaps. The index aims to be an accessible, comprehensive, practical and results-oriented tool that focuses on both the policy level commitments and on-the-ground realities.
It is intended to be dynamic, interactive and to improve over time as more and reliable data becomes available.
In his intervention, Stephen Karingi, the Director of the Regional Integration and Trade Division at the ECA, said the Index provides a tool for moving the discussion on regional integration from perception to evidence.
The Africa Regional Integration Index was welcomed by participants at the launch who included policy makers.
It was agreed that addressing all the various dimensions of regional integration is required for meaningful implementation of regional integration ideas.
Efforts for the improvement of integration in one area, such as infrastructure, cannot deliver increases in economic integration without measures also in other areas.
In line with the theme of the UNCTAD 14, “From Decisions to Actions”, it was also strongly agreed on that meaningful integration requires committed implementation of decisions in this regard, not only in letter but also the spirit.
The need for the engagement of the large economies of the continent, such as South Africa and Nigeria, in the regional integration project was also emphasized, as was the importance of including trade in services, to the extent possible, in future editions of the Index.
Participants also noted that the index highlighted the extent of the work still to be done in achieving full integration within Africa’s regional economic communities, and the benefits of weighting country scores within each regional economic community to calculate an alternative ranking.
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