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African countries urged to deepen regional integration to see economic benefits

Addis Ababa, March 17, 2023 (FBC) – Though African countries have made commendable progress in implementing the regional integration agenda and promoting intra-regional trade, more work is needed to accelerate the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) and the ratification of the Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons, Right of Residence and Right of Establishment, said Stephen Karingi, the Director, Regional Integration and Trade Division at UNECA.

“It is the bedrock of deepening integration as it interacts with the ability to move goods and services and help to optimise the AfCFTA,” stressed Karingi during his presentation at the Meeting of Experts of UNECA’s 55th session of Conference of Ministers on the Assessment of progress on regional integration in Africa .

“Collective efforts are required from all member States, regional economic communities, key partners and stakeholders to realize the economic benefits of integration and the African Continental Free Trade Area,” he said.

According to Karingi, to support member States in their formulation and implementation of economic policy and enhance macroeconomic integration, ECA has developed a prototype macroeconomic model and provided support and training in 15 countries. On the fiscal side, ECA supported taxation policy reform and revenue collection in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia.

Speaking on infrastructure and energy sectors, he said “The COVID-19 pandemic and the war in the Ukraine have however, worsened public deficits and the debt burden, which have reduced infrastructural investment in Africa.”

Antonio Pedro, ECA Acting Executive Secretary said collaborative efforts, including the United Nations, the African Union, and regional economic communities, have continued to be deployed to respond to threats to peace and security, to participate in the management and resolution of conflict, and to stem the tide of terrorism and coups on the continent, albeit with mixed results.

“To foster regional integration on the continent, ECA will continue to prioritize the support that it provides to member States, regional economic communities, the African Union Commission and the secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area towards the implementation of the free trade area,” said Pedro.

Recall that the 55th Session of UNECA’s annual Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development has started on March 15 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

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