We are seeking your inputs, in particular on the questions below:
- Investment in regional infrastructure
The infrastructure deficit is one of the most binding constraints to Africa’s growth and competitiveness. Currently, limited supply of dependable energy slows production; the inadequacy of good roads and shortage of well-developed ports slows the timely delivery of products while antiquated/insufficient and costly access to information and communication technologies (ICTs) limits the continent’s integration and competitiveness in the global market. Addressing these issues through a regionally integrated approach to infrastructure development will help Africa to form large, competitive markets to replace the current small, isolated, and inefficient ones.
Q: In what ways can the Bank best support and facilitate investment in regional infrastructure?
- Enhancing the governance and policy environment of integration
Physical interconnectivity alone will not be sufficient for efficient integration. The “soft” aspects of regional integration equally need to be addressed, especially in the area of trade in goods and services. In the last decade, Africa’s trade growth outperformed the global average. However, much of the growth has been driven by rising global demand for primary commodities and a rebound in prices from their lows in the early part of the decade. Within the continent, the level of intra-African trade remains low in comparison with other regions. Africa has the lowest degree of market integration among the seven global regions with only 16% of its trade destined within the continent. Manufactured goods make up nearly half of intra-African exports while these goods make up only a fifth of Africa’s exports to the rest of world. Fuels and mining products make up 68% of Africa’s exports to the global market, whereas these goods represent only about a third of intra-African exports.
Q: How should the Bank approach the soft issues of integration and cooperation and what should it do differently?
- Targeted support for effective implementation
Africa’s framework of regional and continental policies is fundamentally sound. However, these policies have not been thoroughly and consistently translated into national legislation, even after treaties are signed and ratified. Even in cases where policies do appear in national legislation, too often they are not enforced. An extensive review of more than two dozen regional projects and development programs revealed that weak policy alignment and harmonization, not just inadequate funding, were the principal drags on efficiency. In many instances, these inefficiencies cost Africa billions of dollars – money needed to close the financing gap in several areas of its development.
Q: What should the Bank’s role be in helping countries effectively participate in regional integration and in supporting the RECs and specialized institutions to better implement the regional integration agenda?
- Enhancing productive capacity
There is an opportunity for Africa to create millions of new, decent (productive, well-paid and secure) private-sector jobs in the next decade, which could pave the way for sustained social and economic development. For the private sector to thrive and help reduce poverty by creating sufficient quantities of new jobs, several minimum conditions need to be in place. These include: the rule of law, good “hard” and “soft” infrastructure, a stable macroeconomic environment, an educated, skilled and healthy workforce, and access to financial services. Further, for the private sector in Africa to be globally competitive, leading to significantly increased productive capacity, and drive intra-African as well as multilateral trade, the deepening of financial markets, the expansion of access to higher education and training are critically important.
Q: How should the Bank’s interventions in regional integration support the private sector in order to boost Africa’s productive capacity and job creation?
- Stabilizing fragile regions
Fragile situations and conflicts sometimes do not coincide with national boundaries. This phenomenon goes beyond the notion of “spillover” from national conflict through refugees, for example; it goes to the impact of regional ethnic, geographical or historical divisions. Examples include the Horn of Africa, the Great Lakes Region and the Sahel. Well-designed regional programs can help address sources of fragility located in several bordering countries.
Q: How should the Bank best support fragile regions?
- Providing selected regional public goods (RPGs)
Regional public goods (RPG) are goods or services or resources whose benefits/costs are shared by neighbouring countries or a group of countries within the region (transnational attribute). The benefits of pure RPGs are “non-rival” (i.e. one country’s consumption does not subtract from the amount available to other countries) and “non-excludable” (no country in the region can be excluded from benefiting, except at a prohibitive cost).
Q: What kind of RPGs should the Bank focus on providing and how should it do it?