Market Integration Across Africa:Progress and Challenges Ahead

Treaties implemented by Regional Organizations (ROs) among which the eight Regional Economic Communities (RECs) have piloted integration across the African continent. The recently created Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), effective since May 2019, is the latest effort along the roadmap started with the Abuja Treaty of 1994 and continued with the launch of ‘Agenda 2063’ on the 50th anniversary of the OAU. This survey has two objectives: take stock of progress at market integration and understand the causes of the African ‘proximity gap’. The review singles out two areas for reducing intra-regional trade costs: adopting simple rules of origin, i.e. rules that are business friendly rather than business owned (details in annex A3) and ‘taking seriously’ the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA). New estimates suggest that if the average time in customs for imports at the African Union level were to be reduced to the average time for exports, that is reduced by 49 hours, this would be equivalent to a reduction of 2.7% on tariffs in importing countries.The greatest challenge ahead is increasing the provision of Regional Public Goods (RPGs). These are under-provided across the continent. Because this survey is mostly about economic integration, we only coverevidence of RPGs in two areas: peace and security and cross-border infrastructure. For both, the evidence suggests that provision of these RPGs has been low. Greater provision would be conducive, if not essential, to the success of African regional integration.

de Melo J., Solleder J-M., Sorgho Z. (2020) "Market Integration Across Africa: Progress and Challenges Ahead", AfDB Working paper n°342.