Dr. Mayaki: AUDA has a broader mandate. Implementation will not be easy because of the high-levels of financing needed as well as the need to harmonize policies between states, but we are on the right path. After independence regional integration became a pillar of Africa’s developmental strategy. These are excerpts: Africa Renewal: What are the main differences between AUDA and NEPAD? Assessing Regional Integration in Africa. Trade between these countries is based on differing interests and policies but they have one agreed 'common external tariff in relation to all other countries and one system for collecting and sharing out customs duties. The unification of Africa is also to be advanced economically through six regional or sub-regional "building blocks". This is why 'S&D' treatment is being demanded by developing countries at the global level as well. It is within this context that internal tariffs and non-tariff barriers that could hinder trade between the Partner States have to be eliminated, in order to facilitate formation of one large single market and investment area. The overall strategic objective of re-grouping African countries and (re)integrating the continent was, from the start, a fundamental response to the effects of colonialism, and intrinsic to African struggles against colonialism and against neo-colonialism after 'independence'. However, despite their internal weaknesses and fragilities, many African countries have, especially since independence, developed their own national identities. Therefore, trade is at the core of the Customs Union. The AU has really made great strides, particularly in the continental free trade area. Such negative effects are very evident throughout the world today from the application of uniform prescriptions and liberalisation policies in the global 'level playing field' supposedly being created through neo-liberal agreements and institutions. Overlapping and Competing Regional Groupings. There are, however, many overlapping 'regional integration' groupings in Africa pursuing differing and even competing programs, particularly in the trade sphere. Further to the above, the unequal natural resource endowments and other uneven levels and forms of economic activities within the respective countries could be addressed through strategically designed complementary and combined programs in agriculture and industry, transport and communications, energy and water, forestry and fisheries and a host of other economic, environmental, social and cultural spheres. What should be done about that? For example, countries that share a free trade area allow for the free flow of goods, services, capital and labor. Also, our budget is approved by AU member states. If it was a road, it was one linking a mine to a port. 'Above all, it would require variable tariff structures and self-selected rates of tariff reduction /retention by participating countries, taking into account their different commercial, production and other capacities and economic, social and other vulnerabilities. However, there are still lessons to be drawn from successful . African regional integration was a dream of many of the continent's leaders, and gave impetus to the creation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in 1963. But agricultural productivity will not increase if the energy issue is not addressed. It is expected to address implementation challenges regarding decisions made by the African Union. It reverses that trend of extractive-based infrastructure by focusing on regional projects and transport corridors that ease movement and spur development. You have also advocated for a bottom-up approach to development. Trade is not the sole or primary 'engine of growth' as depicted in neo-liberal theory, but it can support production and development if appropriately designed. AUDA will also focus on resource mobilisation and the connections between sectors to avoid a siloed approach, which as you know is a key aspect of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A degree of political cooperation is taking place at inter-governmental level through the creation of continental political bodies, and security and other agreements. In Southern Africa, the regional integration grouping is the thirteen-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC). — Ibrahim Mayaki, chief executive officer of the the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), which is currently transforming into the African Union Development Agency (AUDA)—the implementing arm of the AU. For example, you know that access to electricity in Africa is very low—more than 60% of our rural population has no access to electricity. Implemented today, such an alternative model of integration would not only be a practical living example of different means and paths to successful development but could also be, or become, part of a broader challenge to the globalised, liberalised, corporate-serving and market-driven paradigm (or model) now dominating the world. It also makes economic sense to regroup the large number of these arbitrarily created countries in Africa which are frequently economically non-viable and environmentally unsustainable. 2.4.2 Specific Obstacles to Regional Integration in East Africa..... 45 . Such joint programs would not only build on the existing 'comparative advantages' of specific member states (that is, what they already have or can do) but be expressly designed to qualitatively shift and share out the 'competitive advantages' of the already more developed countries in the region; that is to raise up all the respectiv(capacities and levels of development. In this model, equity is both the base and engine of development, as well as the expression and guarantee of human rights, human security and regional stability. Extraction of minerals, extraction of agricultural produce, and so on. There is a pre-existing and specifically trade grouping, the Southern African Customs Union located within SADC, consisting of South Africa and the much smaller BLNS states (Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland). Informing all the above is the conviction that more balanced and equitable development has to be consciously promoted within and through all regional agreements and arrangements. “Colonialism was a system of illicit financial flows,” you said recently at an event at the UN headquarters. But, to be really useful to relatively small producers and exporters within the region, such market access would also entail South Africa opening up more favourably to its regional partners than to international producers and exporters into its market. But such greater levels of responsibility would also rest on all of the stronger member governments to ensure that 'their' companies do not reinforce or aggravate the existing economic imbalances through aggressive or predatory business tactics in other countries within the community. The African Union member states wanted to be very concrete regarding the creation of a decent jobs agenda. Moreover, integration can improve regional security, because the expansion of international trade often correlates with a reduction of conflict. We want these best practices to be replicated in all countries. They can, for a start, be eroded through the greater freedom of movement of African people. These differing and conflicting integration programs are adding to the skepticism, indifference and even growing alienation of social movement analysts and activists. What is the current state of integration? “Pan-Africanism, as an expression of continental identity and coherence, distinguishes regional integration in Africa from other regions in the developing world” (McCarthy, 1995, p. 14). The infrastructure of the colonial period still stands in most of Africa, albeit modernised. The African Development Bank tells us that 60% of our SMEs have less than 20 employees and the other 40% have less than 10. This article was published in GREAT Insights Volume 1, Issue 1 In an interview with Africa Renewal’s Kingsley Ighobor in New York Dr. Mayaki spoke on AUDA’s role in Africa’s development agenda and discussed regional integration and his agency’s plan to create a million jobs. Your question is fundamental because regional integration will only progress if national governments—which manage regional bodies—implement regional decisions. 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