Président de la Commission de l’Union Africaine (depuis le 1er. février 2008)
The stakeholders included Regional Economic Communities (RECs), African Development Bank (AfDB), Regional Development Banks, Infrastructure Consortium for Africa, AU Commission, Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the NEPAD Secretariat, which was represented by NEPAD advisors Godwin Punungwe and Reatile Mochebelele.
The objective of the World Bank was to bring African stakeholders together so that they could input into the development of its integration strategy and how they can best support it.
In his opening remarks, Hartwig Schafer, Acting Vice-President for the Africa Region, informed the stakeholders that the Bank is presently supporting projects of US$1.1 billion.
The Bank, he said, is keen to have additional resources allocated by the donor countries to support regional infrastructure development
The AfDB Chief Economist, Louis Kasekende, touched on the need for African governments and the African Union to have a long term goal to rationalise the overlapping RECs and dual membership by member states.
The workshop discussions were based on presentations prepared to highlight key issues related to regional integration.
The key messages out of the presentations were :
African per capita income is now increasing in tandem with other developing countries
Economic performance is becoming more diverse with oil and gas producers growing at 10% per annum, diversified economies at 4% while post conflict countries still have lower growth rates
Africa’s better performers are on a par with India and Vietnam
Rates of growth in Africa are lower than in Asia because capital investments are also low
Exports are important but are growing very slowly and Africa’s share of international trade is falling
Factory floor costs compare well with those of India and China but indirect costs are much higher – such as power failures, transport costs etc.
The workshop was informed that integration is constrained because countries guard their sovereignty, protocols take long to ratify and implement, and countries find it easier to liberalise the movement of people rather than goods and investment.
The NEPAD representatives, supported by other stakeholders, called on the World Bank to take into account the African priorities contained in the Africa Action Plan.
The World Bank will now deliberate on the inputs from the workshop as it develops its African integration strategy, looking at opportunities for the Bank’s regional integration activities.
The Bank proposes to have a meeting of African stakeholders and other cooperating donors soon to present its proposed strategy.
The title of the workshop was : Meeting the challenges of regional integration, intra-African trade and economic growth. Source : NEPAD News, February 9, 2007