This year’s African Economic Conference (AEC) will see the African Development Bank (AfDB) holding a networking session with think tanks on “Accelerating Africa’s Transformation through Regional Integration: What are the Priorities and Policy Options?” with a series of AEC meetings scheduled over the next three days till October 30 in South Africa’s economic capital.
The Bank Group has repeatedly reported that the continent’s structural transformation cannot take place without investment in infrastructure and regional integration. However, results have been less impressive, with intra-African trade estimated at between 12% and 16%. To reach its goal, the AfDB is developing a new Regional Integration Strategy (RIS) for the period 2014-2023, which marks a steep change in its approach.
The networking session, which is a collaborative initiative between the African Development Institute and the NEPAD Regional Integration and Trade Department, aims to provide an effective African-based diagnostic tool to engage think tank partners, policymakers and Regional Economic Communities in an exchange of views on how best to structure Africa’s path toward its structural transformation.
Indeed, Africa’s vision is to transform itself into a prosperous continent, with high quality growth that creates more employment opportunities for all, especially for women and youth. With a view to meeting the transformation agenda, participants hope to draw from the concrete experience of emerging economies, and deliberate on the following major questions:
•Is there a need for a new approach? What are the key priorities to facilitate trade and fast-track regional integration in Africa?
•What should multilateral development banks, such as the AfDB, do differently to support Africa’s integration? What type of relationship should they have with key players in regional integration (e.g. pan-Africa bodies [AUC, ECA], RECs, academia and business associations)?
•What will it take for Africa to successfully integrate into regional and global value chains?
•What industrialization policy measures and investments need to be put in place for Africa to be more attractive than other possible destinations?
•What policies are best suited to bring about industrialization?
•How can Africa leverage its commodities for industrialization, job creation and economic transformation?
•What are the political economy issues impacting on Africa’s integration and what can the countries do to overcome such impediments and to translate commitment into reality?
•How can Africa finance its regional integration to truly drive its own agenda?
While targeting best policies suited to bring about Africa’s effective integration and addressing political economic issues, the AfDB’s Johannesburg session of networking with think tanks for policy dialogue should greatly inspire the high-level panel tasked with the elaboration of the Bank’s new RIS and also to seek responses to latent issues, including amongst others:
•Priorities to accelerate regional integration in Africa;
•The role of multilateral development banks (MDBs), such as the AfDB, and what they need to do differently to support Africa’s integration;
•The relationship between MDBs and key players in regional integration;
•Setting the path necessary for Africa to successfully integrate into regional and global value chains;
•Stimulating productive capacity as a pre-requisite for increased value addition and trade, both regionally and globally;
•Addressing the political economy issues impacting on Africa’s integration in order to translate commitment into reality; and
•Financing regional integration.
From: African Development Bank
Given the size of the African continent, the potentials of tapping on resources is tremendous. This opens up great opportunities for it as an emerging economy, albeit the different structural concerns from world and business leaders. As with other emerging nations, it behooves some attention into areas that can be exploited for competitive advantages, which includes economies of scale and access to resources.
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