19 June 2018

Nigeria: African Common Market - Path to Economic Development

opinion

The high level of poverty in Africa is absurd and an aberration taking into consideration the enormous natural resources at the disposal of the continent.

Africa's land mass of over 30 million square kilometers is more than the entire land of USA, China, European Union ( EU) and India put together, whereas the population is less than that of China or India.

The wealth in mineral and natural resources of the continent are as humongous as the physical size with many firsts in the world. Africa is the world's largest producer of diamonds, gold, bauxite (aluminum), coltan (columbite and titanium) cocoa, cassava, yam and a major producer of natural rubber, palm oil, coffee, sorghum, millet, bananas, cotton, timber, oil and gas.

The land is 70% arable with tropical forests, savannah grasslands and ideal temperatures which range from 15-35 degrees celsius.

The continent is not plagued by destructive acts of nature such as typhoons, hurricanes, earthquakes and permafrost winter lands.

Despite these idyllic endowments and conditions, the continent is still the least developed in the world.

The problem of Africa lies in the inability of the people to manage these resources to their advantage. The struggle for Africa's independence was relatively easy, while the fight for economic emancipation was more complicated and daunting because of the different fiscal, monetary and customs policies inherited by the 53 African countries from colonial administrations.

The challenge therefore was how to integrate these diversified economic systems into one formidable supranational body.

The continent was to this effect divided into six regional economic communities, one of which is ECOWAS for West Africa.

The Regional Economic Communities (RECs), after merging their social, fiscal and monetary institutions will form the building blocks of an African Economic Community (AEC) or common market. This process is ongoing and ECOWAS is the most successful with a common passport, common security organization (ECOMOG), common parliament, borderless territories, and such policies which support regional integration.

The benefits of an economic union are many, some of which are: a single african currency used by 1 billion people will be strong and not likely to fluctuate and easily loose value. It will constitute a formidable foreign exchange payment mechanism of relative strength which will compete with other hard currencies such as, the dollar, Euro, Yen, RMB; an African owned currency will fund industries and infrastructures without external stringent conditionalities; an African Central Bank or monetary fund would manage the indebtedness of member states in a more humane manner, in contrast to the crippling conditionalities imposed by current international financial institutions, which hardly favour social and welfare projects; and job created as a result of these measures would reduce the brain and energy drain of African youths who are migrating abroad.

Nigeria stands to benefit from an African common market or economic union because of the size of its economy and large population. Nigeria's moribund automobile, textile, petrochemical, iron and steel industries which sooner or later would be revived through private/ public sector partnerships would find ready markets of over 1 billion people.

Moreover, Nigeria is politically the most powerful country in Africa, despite the perennial internal squabbles. Nigeria led the struggle for Africa's political independence, and it should not be found wanting and missing in the ongoing existential economic war on poverty, diseases, unemployment and underdevelopment in the continent. These challenges can be overcome only, if the divergent interests of the continent are domiciled in a common market.

Ambassador Akinkuolie Rasheed was the Director of Trade and Investments in Nigeria's Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Nigeria

Airlines That'll Succeed Are Those That Aren't Too Posh

Recent years have been brutal for African airlines but, in spite of that, there is a new rush to resurrect dead national… Read more »

See What Everyone is Watching

Copyright © 2018 Daily Trust. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 800 reports a day from more than 140 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.