From Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, comes a new call on the leadership of the continent’s economies, to pursue regional integration as a way to foster economic benefits that would lead to growth and development.
Leading the renewed call yesterday, at the ongoing 2019 African Development Bank (AfDB) yearly meetings, the President of the biggest regional lender, Akinwumi Adesina, said this must start with the elimination of non-tariff barriers. According to him, there is the urgent need to fast-track the continent’s regional integration process to accelerate Africa’s economic transformation. “Apart and divided, Africa is weakened. Together and united, Africa will be unstoppable. Pulling down non-tariff barriers alone, will spur trade by at least 53 per cent, and potentially double trade,” he told delegates at the packed Sipopo Conference Center.
In the past several years, the African Development Bank has invested over $13 billion in the central African region, “and for every dollar invested, the region has leveraged $36, an incredible rate of return of 36 times. “There’s excitement in the air on Africa’s economic opportunities, and those opportunities are boundless. The newly ratified 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,” Adesina said. Equatorial Guinea’s President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, recalled that his country, once one of the poorest countries in the world, has since been radically transformed with one of the highest per capita incomes on the continent.
“For me, development is not about per capita income, it is about expanding the opportunities for the people to live a more dignified life. “Equatorial Guinea is open for business. We are committed to regional integration for shared prosperity. We count on the African Development Bank to help us achieve economic diversification and the consolidation of social equality,” he said. Regional integration is one of the bank’s strategic “High 5” agenda to rapidly advance Africa’s economic transformation.