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Researchers point to regional integration as key driver of economic growth
African researchers have indicated that improved governance and structural transformation on the continent will naturally depend on the advancement of regional integration initiatives.
The researchers that successful regional integration will eventually bring about the desired ease of movement of people and ease of doing business, as well as improvement of balance of payment through increased quality exports.
This was the key message presented Tuesday, December 5 by three researchers at the 12th African Economic Conference during a session titled “Deepening Regional Integration towards Effective Governance and Structural Transformation”.
The session focused on research findings in two of the largest African regional blocs on the continent; the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the Economic Community for West African States (ECOWAS).
In his paper focusing on ECOWAS, Nigerian researcher Musibau Adekunle called regional integration a necessity that promotes good relations among African economies.
“Regional integration ensures countries the advantages of economies of scale in production and consumption. This is due to the fact that Africa contains small and fragmented economies with low incomes and regional integration is one of the key factors that can bring about structural reform and economic reform,” he said.
“It is recommended that each economy in the ECOWAS trade bloc should improve on good governance if they want structurally transform their economies. For example, if they want to achieve agricultural transformation, they need to first look at all dimensions of good governance.”
While presenting his research paper titled “Institutional Quality and Trade: The Case for COMESA Region”, Shingirirai Mashura, a Professor of Economics at the University of Zimbabwe, noted that presence of corruption significantly undermined regional trade and the region’s share of global trade.
He called for improvements in government effectiveness to overcome regional Non Tariff Barriers to Trade and also called for improved business regulatory institutions.
“An improved regulatory environment will positively facilitate trade and increase trading among member countries and their global share of exports. Important to note, too, is that deterioration in the rule of law among specific member countries seems to be working against trade growth for the whole region,” he said.
A Research Economist at the African Development Bank, Adeleki Salami, commended the research papers, noting that more improved research methodologies are being utilised by researchers to find solutions to the most pressing issues that affect progress in regional integration and national development.
“Knowledge generation and focused policies can only be made after good research has been made, so I commend the researchers for their findings and hope that the recommendations and development experiences provided can be exploited for the benefit of smooth regional integration within the continent,” he said.
The Bank’s research department undertakes and disseminates research on priority issues related to African social and economic development, with particular emphasis on growth, poverty reduction, and accelerating the process of regional economic integration.
The African Development Bank’s Ten Year Strategy, which commenced in 2013, aims to promote regional integration initiatives and improvement of the quality of Africa’s growth through two key goals: inclusive growth, and the transition to green growth.