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World Bank ‘supports Africa’s economic integration ambition

The World Bank supports efforts at attaining the full economic integration of Africa, a key pre-requisite in the continent’s quest to achieve a continental government, the bank’s Vice President for Africa, Obiageli Ezekwesili, said here Monday.

“The economics of scale argument is in favour of economic integration,” Ezekwesili told journalists on the sidelines of the 1-3 July African Union (AU) summit in Ghana’s capital, Accra.

“What we are doing as partners of the continent is to support the economic integration ambition of this continent…through higher portfolios of investment in economic integration projects of infrastructure, education and HIV/AIDS, among others,” she said.

African leaders at the summit are debating behind closed doors the issue of Union Government for Africa, which is expected to be the culmination of full political and economic integration of the continent.

On the union government, the World Bank official said: “What we want to continue to see and support is a visible demonstration on the part of African countries working in unison to tackle the various challenges on the continent regionally.”

She decried the slow integration process at the level of the Regional Economic Communities (RECs), while putting the level of Africa’s integration at below 5 on a scale of 1-10.

But Ezekwesili noted that the RECs were looking at mechanisms to accelerate their work.

Commenting on Africa’s economic growth, the World Bank official described as a misconception the “sense that there is a total failure in the continent”.

“At least two-thirds of Africans live in countries that have attained sustained growth of 5.5 percent in the last decade and majority of the countries in this bracket are non-oil producing countries, showing that economic policies that move toward macro-economic stability really are helping the continent to have a focus and a direction toward economic development, and therefore the reduction of poverty,” she said

She, however, denied insinuations that the economic policies of African nations were dictated from the bank’s headquarters in Washington, even while admitting that some aspects of the decade-long implementation of structural adjustments programmes tele-guided from Washington were faulty.


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