By Khalifa Hemed
Published October 29, 2017
Opening up of markets in Africa without enhanced production is a recipe for disaster.
Said Adejumobi, the Southern Africa regional director of United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), says without production, trade and market liberalisation in Africa is meaningless.
Adejumobi spoke in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second largest city, where a strategy for regional integration based on three pillars–market, integration, industrial and infrastructure development–was adopted.
Saying the “industrial pillar seeks to boost the productive capacity of member-states … and enhance economic diversification”, Adejumobi said “the infrastructure component is aimed at easing the challenge of doing business, and allowing the free flow of goods and services.”
According to Adejumobi the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) not only provides the architecture of development that would be crucial in realizing the aspirations of Agenda 2063 of the African Union and Agenda 2030 of the United Nations for development but also “represents the most ambitious attempt at integrating African economies in creating a free trade area for 26 African countries of 632 million people, representing 51 percent of Africa’s GDP and constituted by three regional economic communities–Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) and East African Community (EAC).”
If well implemented, Adejumobi said, TFTA “has the capacity to promote trade, enhance production, spur economic competition and thereby improve the quality of goods and services across the regions, encourage creativity and innovation, create more jobs, reduce poverty and ensure that nobody is left behind in the development train with better economic opportunities for all.”
Adejumobi stressed the need for the industrial pillar of the TFTA “to promote the development of indigenous capitalist or entrepreneurial class that would increasing assume a multinational character.”
To avoid discontinuities in the industrial focus of the three Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and their member-states, Adejumobi called for the harmonisation of the SADC Industrialization Strategy and Roadmap of 2015, the COMESA Industrialization policy and EAC industrial policy agenda.
Noting the need to prioritise the small and medium scale enterprises as they are usually the hubs for job and wealth-creation in developing economies, Adejumobi called for what he termed as “deconstructing of Africa’s national borders which will not only make for good economics but also good social and political re-engineering of our Continent as contained in the Pan-African ideals.”
Adejumobi spoke during the official opening of the Ad-hoc Expert Group Meeting (AEGM) on “Deepening Regional Integration in Southern Africa: The Role, Prospects and Progress of the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA).