Economic integration involves agreements between countries that usually include the elimination of trade barriers and aligning monetary and fiscal policies. African countries needs to passover the signing and reach the level of applying, changing and developing foundations for the documents to be signed.

African countries have taken several steps to integrate their economies, including: 

  • Organization of African Unity (OAU/AU) – Created to tie African countries together to pursue mutual interests and goals
  • Regional economic communities (RECs) – Established to integrate African countries by region
  • Trade agreements – Initiatives like the Tripartite Free Trade Area and the East African Community have added to regional integration
  • African Free Trade Agreement (AFTA) – Concluded in 2018, this agreement intends to establish a single market and production base
  • African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) – Full implementation would help African countries increase their resiliency in the face of future economic shocks

Other regional steps include: 

  • Infrastructure (SADC, EAC)
  • Trade liberalization and facilitation (West Africa economic and monetary Union, COMESA)
  • Free movement of people (ECOWAS)
  • Peace and security (ECOWAS and SADC)

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is a strategic framework that creates a single market of goods and services for deeper economic integration on the African continent. The AfCFTA aims to: 

  • Establish a One African Market for goods and services
  • Transform regional trade
  • Lift growth and support livelihoods across the continent
  • Attract investment
  • Boost trade
  • Provide better jobs
  • Reduce poverty
  • Increase shared prosperity in Africa

The key pillars of Africa’s regional integration include: 

  • Trade and market integration
  • Macroeconomic policy convergence
  • Free movement of persons
  • Peace, security, stability and governance
  • Harmonization of sectoral policies

Today, a historic Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been signed that signals a commitment to cooperation, knowledge sharing, and collective action in the commodities exchange industry. The formation of the AfCFTA Association of Commodities Exchange (A-ACX) is a pivotal moment in the journey towards realizing the full potential of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). One of A-ACX’s key objectives is to foster collaboration and information sharing among member exchanges. This collaborative approach is vital in addressing common challenges and seizing opportunities in the commodities exchange industry. Through regular dialogues, member exchanges can share best practices, experiences, and insights, ultimately improving the efficiency and effectiveness of their operations. This knowledge exchange will also benefit regulators and policymakers, ensuring that regulations and policies are aligned with industry needs.

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African economic integration is an overarching goal of achieving an African Economic Community at continental level.  Member states will need to address integration challenges, which include: 

  • Inadequate financial resources
  • Poor infrastructure networks
  • Increasing violence, terrorism and political instability
  • Slow implementation of policies and agreements

Signing documents and agreements while the infrastructure, the structure the organizational entities, and the roadmaps, as well as the operating strategies, are not in place, is an act of archivists, not difference makers.

Signing documents and agreements or Memorandum of Understanding is just building a Library of Paperwork and Administrative Understanding and Cooperation that stays at the level of paperwork with no impact on the reality of integration that should be done in complementary and synergistic manners between the following [Summary of realizations]:

The building capacities:

  • Build up domestic infrastructure and production capacity
  • Attract investment
  • Foster deeper and diversified trade relationships worldwide
  • A regional approach in key structural areas such as: 
  • Tariff reduction and harmonization
  • Legal and regulatory reform
  • Payment systems rationalization
  • Financial sector reorganization
  • Investment incentive and tax system harmonization
  • Labor market reform
  • The development of productive sectors,
  • The connection of logistics, land [rail, Truck, and River], maritime, and air
  • Regional inclusion from a continental perspective,
  • The enhancement of rules and directives toward integration,
  • The synchronization of procedures for transactions and transfers of value and commodities,
  • The redefinition of the function of the Customs Union and international commercial code
  • The exploration of common rules for the control, inspection, valuation, taxation, and acceptance of foreign-made products, merchandise, commodities, and services
  • The standardization of payment methods,
  • The establishment of a central financing house and banking defining convertibility and exchange rate between various currencies, the unification of monetary policies and financing decisions,
  • The standardization of calibrating, measuring, weighing, labeling of products, services, and natural resources,
  • The creation of professional representative cooperatives for the valuation and the international commercialization of primary goods, mining processing, and transformation of agricultural products,
  • The implementation of continental referential standards for the protection of the environment
  • The creation of an agency for the respect of the international code for usage. recycling and protecting water resources,
  • The creation of regional centers of research and development,
  • The use of identical and similar educative and workforce development studies and programs

Additional Factors Needs to be Accounted and Steps to be Taken

These are the basic elements of structuration that are fundamental in setting primarily a common working frame to be adapted to every interest represented by the active members of the African Integration to enable further development and structuring of the African Continental Free Trade Area based on the adhesion and the adaptation of commonalities and identities at the level of economics, finance, logistics, management, and decision-making process based on the following changes and

steps to improve the African economies, including: 

  • Developing human capital by enabling and encouraging creativity and innovation based on local needs and regional potentialities
  • Building safety nets with increase of State and Government Agency involvement with governance based on social responsibility and accountability
  • Addressing a growing population and reducing poverty and gap in social stratification
  • Educating and Forming Africa’s youthful population with integrated educatively training programs’ leading to meaningful work conditions and skills learning
  • Increasing regional trade in social services
  • Investing in digital and in human resources
  • Information communication technologies: Development of information communication technologies
  • Improving infrastructure, including Internet and other communication networks
  • Promoting job creation with acceleration of Social Entrepreneurship based on Regional capacities
  • Exploring new financing mechanisms by State and Regional Entities
  • Making manufacturing and transformation a local and regional policy priority prior to export
  • Reducing debt and external reliance on international financing
  • Increasing cooperation and cooperatives by women and tribal ownership to reinforce local and regional self-reliance and economic emancipation
  • Building Renewable Energy oriented industries using local resources of land, river, ocean, wind and other natural resources.
  • Maintaining macroeconomic stability
  • Having a more efficient tax system
  • Investing more in human capital
  • Having strong financial systems
  • Having a realistic exchange rate
  • Development of infrastructure and connectivity between African countries
  • Elimination of all barriers to trade
  • Good governance
  • Cross-border better cooperation among public and private stakeholders

Economic integration can lead to: 

  • Reduced cost of trade
  • Improved availability of goods and services
  • Greater purchasing power
  • Diversified economies
  • Food and energy security