African Nations Urged to Work on Infrastructure Connectivity to Maximize Benefits of Regional Integration

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Addis Ababa March 20/2023 (ENA) African countries should exert more effort on infrastructure connectivity to maximize the benefits of regional integration dimensions that are stirring in varying wheeler speed after the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) rollout, UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Regional Integration and Trade Division Director, Stephen N. Karingi said.  

The director told ENA that Africa has seen a lot of progress on trade and market integration essentially due to AfCFTA rollout, and as countries, including Ethiopia started trading under it. 

Noting that regional integration has many dimensions, pointing out trade and market integrations, infrastructure connectivity, movement of people and goods and social integration as the main ones, he said “we have seen that the different wheelers are moving at different speeds.” 

He stressed that African countries should exert more effort on infrastructure connectivity to maximize the benefits of the regional integration dimensions that are stirring in varying wheeler speed after the AfCFTA rollout.  

“On trade integration or the market integration, there is a lot of progress that has been achieved, especially because of the rollout of the AFCFTA, whereby state parties, including countries like Ethiopia, are already starting to trade under the AFC FTA,” Karingi said.

However, when it comes to the movement of goods and services in Africa under AFCFTA, the continent cannot maximize on the benefits of trade and market integration without more infrastructure connectivity works, he added.  

“When it comes to the movement of goods and services within the continent, under the rules of AFCFTA, we see a lot of progress being achieved there. Of course, we cannot be able to maximize on the benefits of market integration, unless we have infrastructure connectivity, and that is one of the areas that requires a bit more effort it requires more effort than we have now.”  

According to him, accelerating integration is a pillar of development for Africa and stressed the need to effectively implement the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). 

He noted that the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the shock arising from the Ukraine war made it difficult for African governments to mobilize the necessary domestic and international resources for infrastructure development.

“One can understand that because of the COVID-19 shock, the shock arising from the Ukraine war, it has been a bit difficult for governments to be able to mobilize sufficient resources to finance infrastructure development. So, more effort is needed when it comes to the infrastructure integration or the connectivity,” he said.

The director noted that the single African Air Transport market has a lot of potential for connectivity in Africa. 

He urged African governments to allow African airlines to land in their respective airports and pick up goods and services, move people, and to make progress on the ratification of the free movement protocol. 

“Unless Africans are able to be able to move from one country to another, without pieces, it is going to be very difficult for us to have a maximum gains or maximum benefits of the market integration,” Karingi said. 

Today, there are a lot of African countries that allow Africans to travel without visa, 25 countries provide visa on arrival and many others enabled electronic visa application, the director stated.  

Ethiopian News Agency
2023