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2018 African Economic Conference: developing integration across the continent

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation.

This week the 2018 African Economic Conference (AEC) took place in Kigali, Rwanda from 3-5 December hosted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the African Development Bank (AfDB).

This three-day conference, themed Regional and Continental Integration for Africa’s Development, brought together a wide range of stakeholders including policymakers, researchers and development practitioners to debate and build knowledge on solutions for continental integration.

Debates focused on four key pillars:

  • conceptual underpinning of Africa's integration
  • infrastructure and institution for Africa's integration
  • leveraging private sector for Africa's integration
  • partnerships for effective integration.

As an organisation focused on the improvement of governance and leadership in Africa, integration and inclusion across the continent resonate deeply with the Mo Ibrahim Foundation’s work.

In a recent interview to mark the launch of the 2018 Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG), Mo Ibrahim said:

It is important for us to develop the economic integration of Africa. We need to enable the movement of goods, capital, services and people. This will really help lift our economies and create the scale for serious investment to take place on the continent.

The IIAG includes data which captures integration across the continent through the Sustainable Economic Opportunity category. This category includes indicators such as Government Development of Regional Integration, which assesses governments' actions and efforts to promote free movement of persons and labour and easy right of establishment and contribution to regional financial integration. This indicator shows a positive trajectory of +1.6 points on average across Africa over the last ten years.

Infrastructure development is crucial to enabling economic opportunity for African citizens. The IIAG also reflects the continent's progress in this area with Infrastructure being the second most improved sub-category over the last decade. The most improved indicator in this sub-category is Digital & IT Infrastructure with 50 countries showing progress in this area.

The IIAG provides data which enables African citizens to assess their country's performance in relation to integration and to advocate for policies to foster and improve it.

The Foundation has been following the AEC discussions closely online ranging from digitalisation to intra-African food trade and sustainable development. Join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #AEC2018.