|As African and European leaders met earlier this month to discuss how to strengthen relations between the two continents, there are lessons Africa can draw from the European integration story. Europe’s experience shows that the path toward unity and prosperity starts with economic integration and strategic thinking, according to Amujae Leader Malado Kaba.
Writing in Project Syndicate, Ms. Kaba—who served as Guinea’s first woman Finance and Economy Minister from 2016-2018—pointed to the EU as a globally recognized model of regional partnerships and integration. Africa, she said, must heed the lessons of both the successes and the failures of the European integration project, if it wants to become the global powerhouse of the future and “build a strong foundation for a partnership of equals with Europe.”
Ms. Kaba’s recent article coincided with the European Union-African Union summit that was held in Brussels to discuss ways to strengthen the partnerships between the two unions. In the piece, she urged the African and European leaders to work together to create an enabling environment for regional integration in Africa that boosts economic growth and job creation.
Africa, Ms. Kaba said, must build strong institutions that are capable of nurturing economic growth. To do so, African nations can use the EU’s experiences “both the good and the bad” to help them deal with integration challenges and capitalize on projects that tap into common economic interests.
African countries, she added, can make better use of the competitive advantages of their Regional Economic Communities to shape strategic programs, such as manufacturing products that can be fully sourced and assembled on the continent:
“For example, an African electric vehicle program could rely on aluminum from Guinea, technical parts from Rwanda, and assembly processes in Kenya or Morocco.”
At the same time, Ms. Kaba warned that the EU’s approach to bilateral trade policies with African countries can undermine trade integration within Africa itself. She noted that the EU-AU summit was an ideal platform to negotiate ways to overcome such hurdles, support integration programs, and increase funding for development.
If the EU experience is anything to go by, she concludes, the African continent can be hopeful of creating the next regional integration success story:
“Let us remember that if Africans can speak as one, the EU-AU summit could take us further down the path of growth, prosperity, and, ultimately, unity.”
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