AEC2018: Calls for quality research to boost African economies and integration

Kigali, Rwanda, 5 December, 2018 – Jean-Guy Afrika, a Principal Trade Expert at the African Development Bank, has tasked researchers on the continent to provide quality evidence-based studies that can help policymakers and citizens to achieve the best outcomes from regional integration and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

He made the appeal during the 2018 African Economic Conference, which closed Wednesday in Kigali, Rwanda.

Afrika’s remarks came during a session that focused on transforming Regional Economic Communities (RECs) to achieve the AfCFTA, Agenda 2063 and Agenda 2030 goals on integration – where participants discussed research papers on African integration.

“Quality research results are vital in the implementation of excellent, evidence based policies on trade and governance, particularly in this important era of a renewed call for regional integration and the AfCFTA,” Afrika said.

“Researchers therefore have to play their role and guide the continent’s public and private sectors to design more effective and cost effective trade, health and social programmes that can propel countries’ prospects of reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).”

Some of the fastest growing economies in the world are in Africa, a continent rich in languages, cultures and unparalleled natural resources.

However, the continent still faces a huge data gap that makes it difficult for policymakers in low and middle-income countries to meet the real needs of their people and to chart a clear path on integration, experts said.

This challenge however, presents an opportunity for researchers, academics and innovators to come up with robust evidence that is customised and contextualised in order to be responsive to African needs and circumstances.

“The AfCFTA demands efficient work and it comes with immense opportunities for Africans in all sectors. With some of the MDGs realised across the continent and others yet to be achieved, reliable data across the continent will be essential both for defining new goals, averting challenges and measuring progress towards faster integration,” said  Inye Nathan Briggs, a Trade Regulatory Officer at the Bank.

Some research papers assessed during the session included work by Professor Charles Fe Doukoure from Ivory Coast, who presented “Obstacles to strengthening economic integration in the West African economic and Monetary Union.”

His research paper focused on the economic, political and infrastructural factors affecting trade between West African countries, noting  that regional trade is now on an upward trajectory due to strong investments in transport and telecommunications infrastructure, stability of political environment and good macroeconomic management.

Another study by three researchers, Isaac Shinyekwa, Paul Corti Lakuma and Martin Luther Munu, presented at AEC 2018, highlights effects of regional economic communities on market integration and industrialisation in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).

The study found that COMESA has created large markets from which partner states are bearing fruit from expanded regional trade.

It also indicates that significant government efforts to facilitate trade have been made in the region, through removal of tariff and non-tariff barriers and infrastructure development.