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11.02.2009 Business & Finance

Many Regional blocs delaying African Unity - ADB

By gna
Many Regional blocs delaying African Unity - ADB

Mr. Alieu Jeng, Resident Representative

of the African Development Bank (ADB) on Wednesday said the

regional economic blocs on the African continent were a major problem

hindering regional integration.
Africa has many regional blocs including the Economic Community

of West African States (ECOWAS), the Southern African Development

Community (SADC), Central African Economic and Monetary

Community (CEMAC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern

Africa (COMESA), among many others that make it difficult to achieve

regional integration.
Mr. Jeng said, in his view, all the blocs should be reduced to about

five since some of the member states of the African Union (AU) even

had overlapping membership in those blocs.
“To me tariffs are not the main problems delaying the achievement

of the African Unity. It is the non-tariff barriers that have been created

by people that hinder the dream of having a United Africa,” he said.

Mr Jeng was speaking at the launch of a report done jointly by the

Economic Commission for Africa and the African Union, titled:

“Assessing Regional Integration in Africa III (ARIA III).”

The report aims, among other things, to asses’ regional integration

processes on a regular basis to draw lessons for improving the

integration programme.
Dr Joseph Atta-Mensah, Chief, Regional Integration Officer at the

United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), reviewing

the report said financial integration in terms of harmonizing money or

capital market on the African Continent would help ease payment and

facilitate trade among countries in Africa.
“Intra trade among Africans is very low. It is about five percent,” he

said, and pointed out that there was the need to increase trading among

African countries.
Dr Atta-Mensah said the report, which particularly focused on

financial integration was looking at possibilities of even integrating stock

markets on the continent.
“For instance, Ghana has a stock market, Nigeria has a stock

market, Cote’ d’Ivoire has a stock market, how can we tie in Ghana’s

stock market to let say Cote d’Ivoire’s stock market? Can a Ghanaian

buy shares on the Nigerian stock exchange?”
He noted that already there were some monetary unions in place

among some regional blocs that used a single currency and stressed the

need for the whole African continent to have a single currency since

that could also help achieve the needed development.

“Monetary union with a single currency in Africa would therefore

reinforce the single market,” he said and added that a one market

system needed one currency.
Dr. Atta-Mensah announced that, it had been agreed by the African

Union that they would establish an African Central Bank to be situated

in Nigeria, an African Monetary Fund in Cameroon and an African

Investment Bank in Libya, but said it was urgent that as a continent;

“we do something about the multiplicity of currencies”.

He also said the UNECA was planning a programme dubbed:

“mainstreaming regional integration in Africa,” where his organization

intended to meet with sections of civil society to explain such monetary

policies on the continent.
Dr Temitope Oshikoya, Director General of the West Africa

Monetary Institute (WAMI), said financial integration would help the

African continent to withstand globalization since no one country could

do it alone.
Making reference to the global financial crisis, he said, shocks

emanating from the global scene could be minimized if Africans had a

common market.
“Monetary integration is a long term project,” he said, and urged

Africans to support the programme because African integration was a

strategy for African Development.
Dr. Mahamadu Bawumia, Former Deputy Governor of the Bank of

Ghana, who chaired the programme, advised African governments to

take the issue of economic integration very seriously.