AfDB Supports Regional Integration, Africa’s Only Way out

30/06/2008
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«It is only by means of regional integration or the unification of the entire continent that Africa can hope to achieve its development goals and impact world trade», former World Bank President Mr. James Wolfenson stressed in a talk he gave recently as part of the Eminent Speakers Program of the African Development Bank (AfDB).

Having toured 44 of the 53 countries of the continent during his time as Head of the World Bank, Mr. Wolfenson finds Africa’s current governance set-up "too heavy".

«With a fifth of the world population, Africa accounts for only 2 to 2.5% of global GDP. Its population is even expected to double over the next 40 years», warned the former WB President, calling for rapid action to ensure that «this population increase is supported by sound development prospects».

Standing Firmly on the side of the RMC

Having recognized and weighed the stakes from a very early stage, ADB has pursued integration for years now, as the central pillar of action in favor of its regional member states (RMC). The Bank thus lends crucial support to the regional integration process through economic communities such as ECOWAS, SADC, CEMAC and CEAC.

ADB President Donald Kaberuka has on several occasions personally visited various locations to convey the Bank’s support to the regional integration process. For example, at the CEMAC Summit in Yaounde at end June, he announced the release by ADB of one billion US Dollars for reconstruction of the infrastructure and strengthening of governance in the CEMAC territory. He said some 150 million additional dollars would be mobilized to revive agriculture and procure agricultural inputs and high-yield seeds for the member states of this regional community. ADB had a few months prior announced the mobilization of 1.8 billion dollars in favor of the SADC members, including 500 million devoted entirely to the regional infrastructure construction activities. Using the platform of the SADC summit held at Port-Louis, President Kaberuka reiterated to the Heads of State ADB’s firm commitment to assist the countries in maximizing their economic potential. He also highlighted the initiatives the Bank envisaged in favor of Middle-income African countries including SADC members such as South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Swaziland, Mauritius and the Seychelles.

Regional Integration for Poverty Reduction

In ADB’s view, poverty can only be eliminated if the African economies can sustain growth over several years, through regional integration strategies driven by strong political will.

«To stay such a course, it is important to reduce the costs and the economic and political risks linked with business ventures, while increasing the dimension and diversity of our markets», urged President Kaberuka at the Port Louis Summit.

He observed in a press interview: «Africa has shown good growth. Yet we need to sustain a higher level of growth for several years, considering the hard road we have traveled. The best way to achieve this is to pursue and accelerate regional integration».

The Bank has set up the NEPAD, Regional Integration and Trade Department with the aim of more effectively coordinating intervention in favor of the Regional Economic Communities. This initiative reinforces NEPAD’s leadership role in the «Infrastructure» component entrusted to it by the African Heads of State on the NEPAD Steering Committee.

Taking its place as Africa’s premier development finance institution, ADB intends to play a decisive role in the process of regional integration on the continent. This intervention is high on the institution’s agenda.


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