He was speaking in the debate at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa on the theme of “Boosting intra-African trade”.
Guebuza stressed that economic integration had become a matter of survival. “If, in 1991, the logic of integration was one of several possible narratives for moving towards development, today, in the global village we live in, it is the central narrative of our time”, he said. “The choices are clear: either we integrate and survive united, or we fragment and we perish in isolation”.
“We have already made our choice”, he declared. “Concrete steps are being taken at several levels and in several regions to give shape to our choice for a more united, integrated and prosperous Africa”.
There was nothing new about the idea of integration – there was nothing that had to be reinvented or restarted, said Guebuza. Instead, it was a question of “doing better what we are already doing and with a greater sense of urgency”.
It was also a matter “of overcoming the legitimate reticence and concerns that some of us still have about the viability of the integration project”, he added. ”To integrate economically the 54 African economies is, without doubt, a project that can be compared to the decolonization of the continent, and it will require sacrifices of a similar size”
But the gains and returns from integration would be greater than any adverse effects, and would “compensate for the costs and challenges we will have to face”.
In addition to removing protectionist barriers, Guebuza said, African countries “must increase our productivity, improve our infrastructures, allow greater mobility of our factors of production, adopt and share new technologies and stimulate innovation”.
The AU needed to give its political stamp of approval to the creation of a continent wide free trade area, Guebuza urged, and establish the framework and plan of action that will lead to this free trade area.Post published in: Africa News