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East African Community Ranked the Best in Regional Integration, Report

The Vision of the African Union is to become an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena.

A new report has ranked the East African Community best of the eight African regional blocs having been able to score highest in a range of dimensions- trade, regional infrastructure, productivity, free movement of people, and financial & macroeconomic integration used to tally the statistics.

The Africa Regional Integration Index (ARII) Report was launched Saturday, April 2 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, during African Development Week.

In the report, the East Africa bloc was cited as the most integrated region owing to higher than average scores in across each dimension of regional integration, except for financial and macroeconomic integration.

The growth and development of Africa as a region is tied to how it adopts integration in carrying out its economic activities.

The report points that integration is key as it “affects what people can buy; the variety of what is on offer at the local market; how easily citizens move between countries; where individuals travel for leisure or for work; how cost-effective it is to keep in touch; where people choose to study or look for a job; how to transfer money to family or get start-up capital for a business.”

The report is Africa’s first effort to measure progress on regional integration assessing the current situation on the continent and highlighting gaps and best practices.

Under the watch of Dr Richard Sezibera, the outgoing Secretary General, the EAC’s integration has deepened trade and development among its members. The most recent projects being the launch of the e-passport which will allow east Africans to travel abroad and the operationalization of new border posts which have boosted trade in the region by 23%.

Speaking on behalf of EAC chairperson John Magufuli about the new border posts, Tanzania Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa noted that already there has been 300% increase in the value of trade from $2 Billion in 2005 to $6 Billion in 2014.

While EAC is on top of the list in the continent, Uganda and Kenya are in top three contributors to wealth creation in the region with 39% and 21% of regional GDP respectively.

Kenya scored highly on Trade integration; Productive integration; and Free movement of people.

In the forward of the report, Erastus Mwencha, Deputy Chairperson African Union Commission notes that deeper regional integration means larger markets and industrialization and productivity as part of value chains.

Additionally, it means talent mobility thanks to greater visa openness. Investment in infrastructure means less congestion along regional corridors and facilitation of trade by cutting time and costs.

With a stable economic outlook, foreign investment also rises. The continent needs to up its pace and performance and measure how and what more can be done. Africa Regional Integration Index thus, comes in.

For all countries in Africa to reach the frontier of what the best performers are achieving in the area of regional integration, they need to put extra work on financial integration and macroeconomic policy convergence, the report advises.

By Robert Muriisa.

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