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AFDB advocates regional integration to foster investment across Africa
AKINWUMI Adesina, president of the African Development Bank Group on Wednesday said that free movement of people, especially labour mobility is crucial for promoting investments across the African continent.
At the AFDB Annual General meeting tagged Regional Integration held in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, Adesina stressed the need for a united Africa.
“Regional integration is crucial for Africa’s accelerated development. We must connect landlocked countries to ports. We must allow the free movement of people. Investors must be able to invest beyond the borders of countries. And Africa must trade more with itself,”
“The newly minted Africa Continental Free Trade Area will make Africa the largest free trade zone in the world, with a combined GDP of over $3.3 trillion. Pulling down tariff barriers alone will spur trade by at least 53%, and with the elimination of non-tariff barriers, trade could potentially double.
“To integrate Africa, we should bring down all the walls,” he said.
Regional integration ranks the fourth priority area of the Bank’s High 5s and is considered as pivotal to boosting Africa’s economic development.
Adesina said the Bank has also supported the integration of financial markets across the continent, through its Africa Financial Markets Initiative, which is helping to link stock exchanges with a combined total market capitalization of $1 trillion. These include the Johannesburg, Nairobi, Casablanca, Windhoek, Lagos and Cairo stock exchanges.
In the area of infrastructure, he said the Bank helped to finance and complete numbers of major transformative projects citing the new international airport terminals in Ghana and Senegal, and the Regional Express Train of Senegal, as examples.
“We’ve provided $16 million to ECOWAS to support feasibility studies for the Lagos-Abidjan highway. Our investment in the 1,000 km Addis Ababa-Nairobi-Mombassa highway is transforming trade between Ethiopia and Kenya, which has risen by 400 per cent.
“Our investment to expand the Walvis Bay Port in Namibia is opening up trade connections to several landlocked countries in the SADC region, such as Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia, and expanding trading volumes from 300,000 to 1 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units,” he added.
In addition, Adesina said the effort of the Bank has helped connect about 16 million people to access electricity, 70 million people with access to agricultural technologies to achieve food security, nine million with access to finance from private sector companies, 57 million with access to improved transport, and 31 million people with access to improved water and sanitation services.