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AfDB President Says Regional Integration is Vital to the Continent

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The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group President, Donald Kaberuka, participated on Thursday, March 4, 2010, in London in a major international conference hosted by DFID to promote better regional economic integration in sub-Saharan Africa. Speaking during the event, Mr. Kaberuka underscored that Africa needed to shift from national level approaches to regional based thinking. This, he stressed, required a step change.  “This is what the AfDB is doing and it is making regional integration a key stone of our ADF and GCI discussions,” he said. He added that “we need to look at how we start to mobilize significant domestic resources on the continent, stressing that “if we can find innovative ways to leverage and use effectively along side development assistance, we can have a real impact.” He also called for a strong African voice. Mr. Kaberuka said regional integration was vital to the continent, adding that it provided the underpinnings for private sector development and economic diversification.

It should be noted that poor quality railways and roads slow border crossings and port clearances contribute to Africa’s transportation cost being the highest in the world. Higher transportation costs imply less profit for businesspeople who rely on railways and roads to get their goods to the markets. Trade within the continent is, on average, just 10%, compared to the 65% of goods traded among European countries. The event brought together some 170 participants, representing major countries, African institutions, donors, business entities, the academia, NGOs, think-tanks and others.

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