African countries must push forward regional integration
efforts in order to strengthen domestic markets, stem the
impact of the global economic crisis and forestall the
possibility of a double dip recession, academics and economists
Pan-regional groups like the recently formed Coalition for
Dialogue in Africa (CoDA) have supported the AfDBs drive
for commercial and monetary integration in the continents
sub regions. Previous efforts have so far brought limited
results but the latest trends are encouraging, according to the
Africas share of world trade remains at about 3%, and
intra regional trade flows amount to some 10% of total African
But internal trade flows have been boosted in recent years,
which may help African countries develop their own internal
markets and to limit their exposure to external crises. Small
nations could also benefit from the economies of scale that
CoDA, which describes itself as an African
lawyer defending the African cause, is looking to
mobilize more resources to finance sub regional integration.
We want to be more deeply involved in this regard,
Festus Mogae, CoDAs chairman, said.
The achievements have been uneven, though. Progress in east
Africa has been widely praised, but there have been mixed
results in west Africa.
East Africa used to be lagging behind, but it moved
much quicker towards integration than the Economic Community of
West African States (ECOWAS), said Abdoulaye Bathily,
Five eastern African countries have prepared the ground for
the adoption of a new common currency, the new shilling,
although the lingering Kenyan political crisis has delayed the
process. If the Kenyan crisis is solved, we would get
very quickly to a solution, Bathily said.
ECOWAS, which was once considered as a leading
organization in terms of subregional economic community, has
longed been bogged down by a series of civil wars during the
past 20 years, and it has had to focus mainly on deploying
peace keeping forces of ECOMOG.
ECOWAS could have gone further, but its progress was
hampered by civil wars in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea
Bissau. The integration agenda has been long delayed. But now
ECOWAS is regaining momentum, Bathily said.
Talks towards creating a single monetary zone are very
advanced, he said. Eight countries are already part of
the west African economic and monetary union (WAEMU), which
uses the CFA franc. We want that the CFA zone and others
find a common ground to get a common currency very