Harmonisation in Africa

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H. Arthur


regional economic communities, regulation, trade, food security, economic development


Globalisation, regionalisation and increasing integration of trade are some major characteristics of the current world order. There is evidence to link enhanced economic growth to increased trade integration in advanced economies like the European Union. Africa has regionalised and is integrating its economies to take advantage of improved trade opportunities, both within and with the rest of the world. Just like the EU, this requires that Africa harmonises its standards and regulatory environments with international standards, not only to participate in international markets but also to direct trade into the continent. Several harmonisation efforts have therefore been initiated and carried out through the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) in Africa. These efforts require coordination to achieve scale and to surmount the challenges related to Africa’s regulatory ‘institutions’, its joint ‘interventions’ with other bilateral development agencies, and their collective ‘initiatives’. The challenges continue to stifle harmonisation efforts and need to be addressed. There is a need to strengthen regulatory institutions, develop infrastructure and technical capacity, and coordinate the several harmonisation initiatives, for uniformity and effectiveness. The prospects of harmonisation to bolster trade and improve food security, economic growth and development on the continent, are a much higher imperative to pursue, than to allow the historical challenges of the colonial era that stifle harmonisation to persist.

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