The African Development Bank Group’s (AfDB) Board of Executive Directors approved on Wednesday, November 19 the new Regional Integration Policy and Strategy (RIPoS) for the period 2014-2023, with focus on creating larger, more attractive markets, linking landlocked countries to international markets and supporting intra-African trade to foster the continent’s development.
African Development Bank Group Board approves new Regional Integration Policy and Strategy
During the presentation to the Board, Sylvain Maliko, Director for NEPAD, Regional Integration and Trade, indicated that the RIPoS replaces the previous Regional Integration Strategy (RIS) and updates the Economic Cooperation and Regional Integration Policy of the AfDB. The RIPoS will guide the Bank’s support to countries and regional institutions in economic integration by leveraging the Bank’s role as a financier, catalyst and knowledge broker.
It places increased emphasis on enhancing trade and industrial development in order to create jobs and foster inclusive growth. It also places more focus on “soft” infrastructure issues such as trade facilitation, policy reforms and regional harmonization of policies and regulations related to infrastructure, trade and investment. AfDB President Donald Kaberuka noted that investments in these “soft” infrastructure issues require fewer resources, but they can make regional infrastructure more efficient, thus enhancing integration, promoting economic growth and improving development outcomes.
The Regional Integration and Trade Department of the AfDB led the preparation of the strategy, in consultation with the Bank’s regional member countries (RMCs), Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and key continental bodies, namely the Africa Union Commission (AUC), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the NEPAD Planning and Coordination Agency .There was also greater involvement of research institutions and think-tanks as well as private sectors bodies such as NEPAD Business Councils, transport corridor associations and development financial institutions. The RIPoS therefore reflects the views and has buy-in of a broad range of stakeholders.
The RIPoS will operationalize the AfDB’s Ten Year Strategy, which reaffirms the Bank’s commitment to promoting regional integration in Africa by identifying it as one of the five core operation areas over the decade 2013-2022. To this end, the strategy focuses on two complimentary thematic areas for support:
- Supporting Regional Infrastructure Development: Regional infrastructure is a lynchpin for Africa’s economic integration and competitiveness. It is crucial for supporting regional and global trade, unlocking landlocked countries, promoting spatial inclusion and reducing energy and ICT costs, all of which are vital for Africa’s productive capacity. The AfDB will continue to lead the charge in the financing of transport corridors in Africa. It will also systematically consult local populations from villages within reach of transport corridors, on additional investments that can add value to the project and provide better distribution of the benefits (e.g. market stalls for traders, schools and water supply systems).
- Enhancing Industrialization and Trade: Several RECs have placed industrialization at the centre of their integration agenda and are looking to the Bank for support. The Bank’s Ten Year Strategy also acknowledges the need to support Africa’s transformation agenda, including “the development of industries that increase the impact of the existing sources of comparative advantage and enhance Africa’s global competitive position”. To achieve these goals, the AfDB will support measures targeting regional and global value chains development, tackling trade facilitation bottlenecks, facilitating regional payment systems and financial markets, and the implementation of strategic frameworks and programs for industrial development and improving trade and investment.
To support the execution of these two thematic areas, the strategy identifies a set of cross-cutting issues aimed at strengthening regional and country mechanisms and institutional capacities for implementation. It also proposes measures to improve effective monitoring and the communication of initiatives and results.
Moono Mupotola, Division Manager for Regional Integration and Trade, stated that her team is already collaborating with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the African Union Commission (AUC) to develop and implement a system of indicators to monitor regional integration in Africa. The Bank will also invoke a step change in the way it engages with regional bodies, RMCs, private sector and other partners for more effective implementation, dialogue and communication.
Beginning in 2015, the Bank will start preparing a new generation of regional integration strategy papers, which are the programming documents for implementing the RIPOS. These programming documents will spell out specific projects and resource requirements and entail greater selectivity in view of regional peculiarities across the continent.