UNECA calls for boosting intra-Africa trade to spur integrated development-Xinhua

UNECA calls for boosting intra-Africa trade to spur integrated development

Source: Xinhua| 2024-03-03 22:24:45|Editor: huaxia

ADDIS ABABA, March 3 (Xinhua) -- The African share of global trade remained at less than 3 percent as African countries continue to trade with the rest of the world more than among themselves, said a new UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) report.

The report on the assessment of progress on regional integration in Africa, among other things, showed that Africa's regional integration agenda is progressing, albeit slowly, the UNECA said late Friday. It said African countries have not met the macroeconomic convergence criteria despite progress in monetary and financial integration.

According to the report, infrastructure development through the Program for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) achieved mixed results, in which while roads and information and communications technology advanced, rail transport and energy infrastructure progressed little. It said infrastructure financing remains a challenge for Africa.

The PIDA is the strategic framework of the African Union (AU) for regional and continental infrastructure development.

The report indicated that there has been some progress in the fulfillment of the first ten-year implementation plan (2014-2023) of the AU's 50-year continental development blueprint, Agenda 2063. The achievements include the adoption of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement and the creation of the Single African Air Transport Market.

According to the report, despite trade under the AfCFTA having officially started in January 2021, the envisaged changes in intra-African trade are yet to appear. Intra-African trade as a share of global trade of the continent declined from 14.5 percent in 2021 to 13.7 percent in 2022.

Over the same period, intra-African exports declined as a percentage of total exports from 18.22 percent to 17.89 percent, and intra-African imports declined from 12.81 percent to 12.09 percent, it said.

It also noted that the African continent has not performed well in bridging the gender digital divide, in which in 2023, about 32 percent of the female population used the internet compared with 42 percent of the male population, against a global average of 65 percent of females and 70 percent of males.

According to the report, Africa still faces a "massive annual infrastructure financing gap," which is estimated between 130 billion and 170 billion U.S. dollars. It recommended innovative infrastructure financing instruments, which include blended finance, green, social and sustainability-linked bonds, and debt-for-nature swaps.

The report was released on the margins of this year's edition of the UNECA's Conference of Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, which runs from Feb. 28 to March 5 under the theme "Financing the transition to inclusive green economies in Africa: Imperatives, opportunities, and policy options," in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.