The roadmaps that would result in institutional development at all levels are essential in accelerating the continental integration and transformation process. When simultaneously developed in a coherent manner, they will provide the various organs of the Union with the necessary dynamism commensurate with the objectives set out in the Sirte Declaration and the Constitutive Act calling for the acceleration of the political and economic integration of the continent.
Similarly, the analysis and assessment of the structures and activities of the RECs, carried out in Chapter Nine, have also made clear the need for their strengthening. Thus, the range of the recommendations made, including the role of Member States, inter-RECs cooperation, the need for greater harmonisation and rationalisation and the relations between the African Union and the RECs, is essentially aimed at making the latter true building blocks of African integration.
It should be stressed that the institutional revamping that would result from both the roadmaps and the strengthening of the RECs, which are two essential accelerators of the integration process, should be carried out simultaneously in order to bring about the necessary synergy that is required to frog-leap that process. Furthermore, the Panel is of view that the following four additional accelerators, if also injected simultaneously with the previous ones, will put, without delay, the transformation process on the fast track – indeed, the fastest track possible. They are:
The free movement of peoples across borders as contained in both the Abuja Treaty and the Constitutive Act;
The development of transcontinental and inter-regional infrastructures;
The multinational African firms as accelerators of Africa’s integration; and,
The early establishment of the continental financial institutions identified in Article 19 of the Constitutive Act (i.e. the African Central Bank, the African Monetary Fund, and the African Investment Bank).
Free Movement of Peoples Across Borders
Free movement of peoples is a sine qua non for political and economic integration. Africa, in its quest for integration, must make free movement of people a top priority. This will create the necessary environment for fostering the spirit of shared values, common interests and destiny and opening up new opportunities. Additionally, non- state actors such as the private sector and other African trans-national entities will not undertake crucial investments required for economic development unless there is factor mobility, including labour mobility. This crucial sector can facilitate cross-border factor mobility given enabling macro economic environments and free movement and rights of establishment.
African countries have always recognised the imperative of factor mobility in the economic and political transformation process. What has been missing, however, is the operationalisation of this imperative. For example, instruments such as the Abuja Treaty recognise the centrality of free movement and rights of establishment of African peoples as a precondition to creating an African Common Market and establishing an African Economic Community.
However, there has been very little movement in that direction because African governments have sought to explain away this lack of progress on the poor socio-economic conditions in their respective countries. External factors such as globalisation and the direction of international trade have been put forward as arguments in support of lack of progress in the free movement of people. What movement has taken place has invariably been out of Africa to the North rather than intra-African. There are, however, exceptions in the case of West and East Africa, where under the aegis of ECOWAS and EAC there is limited free movement of people. In West Africa, a citizen of any of its Member States can travel within the region without a visa and remain in any of the countries for three months. However limited this practice may be, it is yet to assume a pan-African dimension. The Panel suspects a large element of ambivalence of Member States on the issue of free movement of people in the continent. But, until this issue is addressed by the entire membership of the AU and free movement of people becomes a reality, political and economic integration will remain but an illusion.
From the perspective of the African peoples- which has been given expression to in many a conference- they believe that they have become the unfortunate victims of discrimination internationally and within their own continent. Little wonder then, that there has been a lot of scepticism about the renewed debate and interest about pan-Africanism. As the Panel has stated at the beginning of this report, the choice before the peoples of Africa is not so much to unite or not to unite, but to forge ahead in the journey towards African integration. The longer the delay in making this hard decision, the more Africa remains underdeveloped.
The Panel argues strongly for a people-centered pan-African Union. Indeed, the concluding remarks of the report focus on this dire necessity. Accordingly, the Panel would like to propose that the AU should give free movement of people highest priority so that when the AU enters into its tenth year of existence in 2012, the celebration thereof will be one of significant movement in Africa’s quest for integration and the people’s scepticism will begin to wane.
The development of transcontinental and inter-regional infrastructure
There is no doubt that individual Member States of the African Union have made tremendous progress in infrastructure development since independence. Even if the supply is still lagging behind, demand has increased in view of the rapid growth of population and its urbanisation. However, where Africa has not made any significant break through is in the domain of trans-African and inter-regional infrastructure development. Given the importance of infrastructure for both production and service sectors, this development is critical not only for the economy as a whole but also for trans-African political transformation. Investment in this domain is highly capital intensive and because of this, African countries believe that they are powerless to embark on pan-African infrastructure development.
This capital shortage illusion must give way to the realisation that Africa has tremendous capabilities in mobilising resources for infrastructure development on a trans-African basis. How to mobilise these capabilities is the subject of the next section of this Chapter. In terms of priorities of transcontinental infrastructure development, the Panel proposes to focus on energy, telecommunications, roads and railways and maritime and waterways transport.
Energy is a major accelerator of the integration process. The current shortage of energy will continue to be a serious impediment to pan-African development unless immediate actions are taken to remedy this at continental level. It is believed that many African rivers like the Congo, the Benue, the Nile, the Niger, the Limpopo and the Zambezi, between and among them, can provide the basis for collective pan-African energy development.
Moreover, Africa is becoming a rapidly emerging gas and oil producer. Therefore, the potential for pan-African energy development and energy pool is virtually limitless and will mostly accelerate African transformation faster. If solar energy is added, a solid foundation would have been laid down for Africa’s self-reliance in the domain of energy and renewable energy at that.
Telecommunications infrastructure is at the heart of the information and communication technology. It has become the main engine for increasing productivity and fostering national cohesion. While substantial progress has been made in several countries, it has remained limited for the continent as a whole. With respect to access to internet services, Africa lags behind the rest of the world, although they are the fastest growing activities in most African countries.
Africa has failed in its effort to develop a functional road and railways network system on a transcontinental basis despite the adoption of two United Nations Transport and Communications Decades for Africa (UNTACDA), covering the periods 1978-1988, and 1991-2000, respectively. This lack of development can be attributed to many factors, particularly the heavy dependence on the public sector for funding which, in turn, depends on external sources for assistance. The Panel recommends a paradigm shift which is developed in the next section of this Chapter.
Maritime and waterways transport is also constrained in the continent by the poor quality of port facilities and services. Given the large number of landlocked and island countries, the coordinated development of these facilities is essential for the acceleration of the integration process. In this context, there is also need to develop an efficient system of trans-African maritime and waterways transport.
Multinational African firms as accelerators of Africa’s integration
The Panel believes that the development of the above-mentioned sectors can be fast-tracked through private sector activity with the public sector playing a facilitating role. This requires actions at the national level aimed at the development of an enabling environment in each Member State of the African Union. Such an environment will result from the liberalisation of capital movements across African countries. It will also necessitate the existence of formal linkages between and among equity and debt securities markets in Africa. Therefore, it is necessary to give high priority to the establishment of such linkages where they do not yet exist.
There is also an urgent need to work out a mechanism that can bring potential African investors together and provide them with information about existing investment opportunities in the continent. In such gatherings, potential investors from different African countries should be encouraged to consider the formation of multinational firms and receive information on the various sources of financing that can be used for that purpose. In that context, they could be assisted with the preparation of feasibility studies for multinational investment projects. In this regard, the possibility of setting up a continental Investment Promotion Commission should be considered.
While the promotion of multinational firms should be left to the private sector, it could also require the involvement of the public sector. Such an involvement could take the form of a partnership between the public and the private sectors. African governments can also explore the possibility of mobilising resources from the capital market. This would necessitate the development of government bond markets. However, it should be noted that the development of a market for long-term government bonds requires active participation by financial intermediaries and an efficient market infrastructure, including well-designed securities settlement arrangements, which do not presently exist in Africa. Therefore, it is necessary to ensure, on an urgent basis, the efficient operations of market intermediaries such as securities houses, investment banks, brokers and commercial banks.
African governments could also use institutional investors for the financing of continental projects. Such institutional investors include mutual and investment funds and contractual savings institutions like pension funds and insurance companies. The advantage of these funds is that, unlike commercial banks, they provide resources for long-term investment projects. The Panel is pleased to note that a pan-African Infrastructure Development Fund (PAIDF) was launched at the African Union Summit in Accra in July 2007. That fund has initial seed money of US$625 million raised from eight investors within the continent.
The initial investors include Ghana’s Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), South Africa’s Public Investment Corporation, the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Development Bank of South Africa and the Barclays Bank/ABSA Group. The rest of the investors to join are Metropolitan Life, Old Mutual Group and Standard Bank Group, all based in South Africa. The fund is the first of its kind of a public/private partnership, which sets a good example to be followed by other groups of investors in Africa.
Financial institutions as accelerators of Africa’s integration
The first call for Africa’s monetary integration came from Dr Kwame Nkrumah. In his historical address at the first conference of African Heads of State and Government in Addis Ababa, when the Organisation of African Unity was launched in 1963, he proposed the creation of an “African monetary zone” and the adoption of a single “African currency” to be issued by a common central bank. This call did not receive the support of the majority of African Heads of State and Government who, instead, recommended the creation of an Association of African Central Banks (AACB).
When the Abuja Treaty was adopted, the AACB, which had been in existence for nearly 30 years, had not considered implementing Africa’s monetary integration as one of its objectives. Even now, the AACB has not gone beyond the pre-feasibility stage. However, the Panel has been informed that the AACB and the African Union Commission will shortly meet to strategise on the future course of action with respect to the setting up of the financial institutions.
Article 44 of the Abuja Treaty renewed Nkrumah’s call for the formation of a Monetary Union in Africa through the “harmonisation of regional monetary zones”. To that end, it recommended that “in accordance with the relevant Protocol, Member States shall within a timetable to be determined by the OAU, harmonise their monetary, financial and payment policies, and boost intra-community trade in goods and services as well as enhance monetary cooperation among Member States”.
The same Article 44 recommends, among other things, the use of national currencies in the settlement of commercial and financial transactions, the establishment of appropriate mechanisms for setting up multilateral payment systems; the creation of national, regional and sub-regional money markets; through the coordinated establishment of stock exchanges and harmonisation of legal texts regulating existing stock exchanges with a view to making them more effective; the integration of all existing payments and clearing mechanisms among the different regions into an African Clearing and Payments House; and the establishment of an African Monetary Union through the harmonisation of regional monetary zones.
The Sirte Declaration also calls for an acceleration of “the process of implementing the treaty establishing the African Economic Community, in particular: ensure the speedy establishment of all the institutions provided for in the Abuja Treaty, such as the African Central Bank, the African Monetary Union, etc. The Constitutive Act of the African Union, in its Article 19 simply states that “ the union shall have the following financial institutions whose rules and regulations shall be defined in Protocols relating thereto: the African Central Bank; the African Monetary Fund; and the African Investment Bank.”
However, the image that emerges is that 44 years after Nkrumah’s call for the creation of an African monetary zone and the introduction of a common currency, 13 years after the adoption of the Abuja Treaty and almost 8 years after the adoption of the Constitutive Act of the African Union, the stage reached in monetary integration is still at study level. The Panel deeply regrets this lackadaisical attitude to a matter of vital importance to Africa’s political and economic integration.
The Panel has been informed that a decision has been taken by the Assembly on the location of the three financial institutions. This is the only positive development on this issue in the past forty four years. It is a development that must be acted upon immediately.
The Panel recommends:
The setting up of an adhoc Committee of Experts by this Assembly that would include the representatives of the three countries selected to host the institutions and be presided over by an independent person who is committed to pan-Africanism. It should also include representatives of AACB, the Commission, the RECs, UNECA and ADB. It should submit a roadmap on the establishment of these institutions within a timeframe of two to three months upon the adoption of this recommendation and that the roadmap should also be submitted to the mechanism proposed in Chapter 12.