It is high time Africa look inwards for intra-African trade in a bid to arrest poverty and under-development in the continent. This is the only way the continent can tackle solutions to the numerous impediments that hinder the continent: inefficient transit regimes and border crossings procedures for goods, services and people; and poor implementation of regional integration commitments.
As a matter of fact African states have to critically look inward to bring down all barriers that in one way or another hinder intra-Africa trade, before development can be achieved for the continent. We need not herein reiterate that the activities of exploitative foreign companies have rendered Africa poor and underdeveloped. In the greedy hunt for our resources, these companies exploit our labour, our land and our minds.
And by exploiting our labour, minds, and the rich resources of our homeland, the world's greedy capitalists live a life of splendour. By keeping us divided, disorganised, confused and living under stifling conditions, they try to halt our progress towards the total development of Africa and our people. The likes of President Jammeh have thereof realised that something in the nature of an economic revolution is required and this revolution has to be triggered by intra-Africa trade.
It is certain that until Africa forms a common economy and market, poverty and underdevelopment of the continent would never be history, as the continent would steadily continue to decline in its share in world trade due to fragmented economies and low export capacity. This common economy and market of course has to be propelled by effective regional integration. Effective regional integration in Africa would not only enhance trade within Africa but also attract investment in manufacturing.
Integration by itself refers to the merger of the means of production, distribution and exchange of individual nations into a single community. The process entails connection of transportation, communication, infrastructure and all other tools that accompany the integration process. The ultimate of integration for Africa is to make the phenomena of underdevelopment and poverty that has characterised the continent for centuries a thing of the past.
With efficient trade among ourselves, the African continent has the ability to lead the African people into the mainstream of global socio-economic development within the broad objectives of the African Renaissance.
What is however needed to achieve these objectives is the political will to adhere to integration objectives, and to give them priority over domestic considerations. A resolute effort must be made to achieve greater institutional and policy convergence. This assumes that countries establish ambitious, but feasible timetables for instituting reforms and establishing institutions, while realistically evaluating the resources required. Strong, efficient regional institutions are also needed.
In fact, such institutions should be authorised to develop appropriate policies independent of national interests without, however, losing sight of each member's particular situation. They should also have enough human and material resources to assist member countries in implementing these policies. The likes of President Jammeh have of course started the journey, others should follow.