How insurgency, selfishness, others impede Africa’s integration, by leaders
They therefore concluded that several impediments were in the wheel of progress of the second largest continent in the world.
Specifically, the stakeholders spotlighted the integration programme being championed by the African Union and its affiliate institutions – the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the African Export Import Bank (AFREXIM) Bank – and unravelled what might have been slowing down its fruition.
Consequently, they agreed that the rising insurgencies in a number of nations was a chief barrier to the project and could render it unrealised if the menace is not urgently tamed.
Other challenges, according to the leaders, who featured in a Presidential Dialogue Session at the ongoing AfDB Annual Meetings in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, include selfishness by those in authority; continued over-dependence on foreign economies; language differences; inadequate education or exposure and poor living conditions of the citizens.
AfDB President, Prof. Akinwumi Adesina, reminded the heads of governments and their representatives that at 18 per cent intra-African trade level, the continent was at the lowest rung globally.
The development, he clarified, meant that Africa was yet to increase trading and cooperation within unlike other regions such as Asia whose intra- trade level stands at 59 per cent or Europe’s rating of 69 per cent. He thereafter tied the continent’s woes to exclusivity.
In his remarks the host president, Obiang Nguema Mbasago, said though his country was disposed to investors or trade from other African nations, he, however, added that Equatorial Guinea would not throw its borders open for influx of foreign insurgents.
He stated: “We will not allow people from the North or West Africa region where insurgency is on the increase to invade our peaceful country in the name of integration. If we are serious about integration, which by the way, started in 1980, we must investigate the reason for these violent insurgencies and identify whom their sponsors are.
“In Equatorial Guinea, we are retraining our security forces, particularly at the borders on ways of identifying potential insurgents from genuine business people.”
Aligning with Mbasago, the President of Congo Democratic Republic, Felix Tshisekedi, stressed that that for integration through trade to succeed in Africa, there must be peace on the continent
The King of Lesotho in the Southern African region, the Letsie III, David Mohato Bereng Seeiso, identified poor welfare of citizens by leaders and misplaced priority for the low level of integration of the zone.
The monarch then prescribed what he termed the ‘ Grey’ infrastructure model as basis for sustained infrastructure development that could spur integration
To the Prime Minister of ESwatini, Ambrose Mandvulo Dlamini, Africa needs to develop advanced ICT to leapfrog integration and trade on the continent, charging the AfDB to increase its investment in that area.
Adesina subsequently advocated that walls be pulled down to fast-track continental integration.
His words: “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.”