About Regional Integration and Trade
ECA’s overarching focus is to promote policies and programmes that strengthen the process of economic cooperation and integration in furtherance of the Abuja Treaty establishing the African Economic Community and the Constitutive Act of the African Union.
In that context, the Commission places particular emphasis on strategic studies that generate recommendations to advance the regional cooperation and integration agenda. For instance, the most recent edition of Assessing Regional Integration report tackles the Continental Free Trade Area as its theme.
There is a complex relationship, often in a two-way direction, between regional integration and the major sectors of economic development, including infrastructure, industrialization, agriculture, investment, trade (both goods and services), on the one hand and among these sectors on the other. For instance, while infrastructure development is an essential component of regional integration, through physical connectivity, a regional approach to infrastructure development can substantially reduce infrastructure costs through economies of scale – especially in the energy sector.
The Regional Integration and Trade Division (RITD) therefore undertakes policy research on the interactions between various ingredients of economic transformation, notably, infrastructure, industrialization, food security, agriculture, land, investment, and trade, in the context of regional integration. In addition to research and policy analysis that offers insights and options on the regional integration agenda, and recognizing that Africa’s industrial and infrastructure development requires a larger regional market and effective cooperation between nations, and in efforts to promote regional integration, the Division is constructing the ECA Regional Integration Index which aims to help African countries and REC diagnose their performance in different aspects of integration.
The work of the Division is undertaken under 4 Sections, namely: Industrialisation and Infrastructure; Investment Policy; Food Security, Agriculture and Land; and the African Trade Policy Centre. In addition to the mainstreamed research and policy analysis in the context of economics of land, the Division also hosts the Land Policy Initiative Secretariat (LPI).