HomeNewsRegional blocs face integration challenges

Regional blocs face integration challenges


FIVE regional blocs including the Common Markets for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) and Sadc are facing challenges in attaining the free movement of persons across countries, as the continent moves to attain a Free Trade Area by 2017.


Zimbabwe is a member of both Comesa and Sadc. According to an information note, Assessment of progress on regional integration in Africa, released here last week, the Arab Magreb Union, East African Community (EAC) and Economic Commission for West African States (Ecowas) have achieved enormous results.

The note was released at the 6th Joint Annual Meetings of the Africa Union Conference of Ministers of Economy and Finance and the Economic Commission for Africa Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Planning.

The annual meetings, held under the theme “Industrialisation for an Emerging Africa began on Thursday and ends tomorrow.

It said the Economic Community of Central African States, the Economic Community of Sahel-Saharan States and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development alongside Sadc and Comesa are still facing challenges in ensuring the free movement of persons.

The note said that despite the progress made several obstacles are hampering and undermining the integration process.

“The movement of people is faced with a number of problems, including those related to infrastructure, especially road transport, such as the very high number of roadblocks erected by security forces as well as illegal barriers and insecurity on the roads,” the note said.

“Countries usually invoke security as the main reason for delaying the implementation of the decision on the free movement of persons which have been taken at the regional level.” The note said the Ecowas regional passport is one of the best examples of a common regional travel document used as a means to improve the free movement of people.

The passport has an Ecowas emblem on the cover and is currently used in Benin, Guinea, Liberia, the Niger, Nigeria and Senegal.

From January 1 2013, Rwanda commenced issuing out visas on arrivals on all African nationals, the note said.

The continent is moving towards establishing a Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) by 2017 and has tasked regional economic communities to drive the process.

The purpose of the CFTA is to boost intra-African trade which is at a measly 12% compared to inter-regional trade achieved by Europe (60%), North America (40%) and the Association of South-east Asian Nations at 30%.

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