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Thursday, July 5, 2007

United States of Africa: Ordinary Citizens Should Take Centre Stage

I read an interesting piece in

"The critical moment that Africa has anticipated since independence has come. For several decades, regional integration has been a main concern of African leaders as well as citizens. However, several years after independence, Africa is still fragmented into small economies with little cross- border trade.

In this light, the fourteen regional economic committees (RECs) working on the integration agenda ought to be applauded. Nevertheless, the teething challenges arising from overlapping memberships in these RECs must be addressed without delay: Multiple memberships make it difficult for member states to meet multiple financial obligations; focus on the numerous agenda of each REC; ratify as well as implement agreed treaties and programmes of each REC; comply with incompatible programmes and subscribe to duplicated efforts. These challenges, in addition to the fear of ceding powers to supranational bodies, must be addressed.

Regional integration promises more trading opportunities, economies of scale, stronger bargaining power and improved productivity. RECs ought to explain what they are doing to position the ordinary African citizen to tap into the local and regional market. It is time Africa went beyond political integration and embraced business integration from the grassroots."

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