African Union Commission Chairperson, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma
Regional Economic Communities (RECs) as building blocks of the African Union have been making progress with integration. The EAC-COMESA-SADC Tripartite will see 27 countries uniting into a free-trade area, collectively representing a positive step in terms of integration. However, the Tripartite is not moving as fast as expected and we should urge that we speed up the implementation of this agreement. ECOWAS is setting the pace on freedom of movement of peoples, with both ECOWAS and EAC recording improvements in intra-African trade. The southern region is doing well in terms of improving transport networks in the region, but more needs to be done faster. There are, however, a number of challenges that we continue to face. The RECs, though initially formed around economic and social integration, their agendas are increasingly dominated by peace and security issues, which are important but divert attention away from their core functions of integration and economic development. Integration of the RECs is much slower than expected, with continued duplication of planning and processes. There is a need for greater coordination on key issues where our collective strength and pooled expertise and knowledge would make considerable difference, e.g. trade negotiations. The challenges remain to ensure that our national, regional and continental frameworks are harmonized. There is also need for progress around soft issues with regards to movement of people, goods and services, and harmonization of policies.