AfDB President Kaberuka Discusses Regional Integration and African Infrastructure Bond
4 September 2012
African Development Bank
The potential to grow intra-African trade is significant and, while it has more than doubled over the past five years, it remains a disappointing figure, Dr. Donald Kaberuka, President of the African Development Bank, told the annual Conference of Speakers of African Parliaments in Johannesburg on Thursday.
The theme of this year’s conference, held at the Pan African Parliament in Johannesburg, South Africa, was on the role parliaments in promoting intra-African trade to achieve development and employment in Africa.
In his speech, Dr. Kaberuka said that trade still held tremendous unrealized potential as a driver of growth on the African continent, but that the opportunities for regional integration had not been fully exploited. In fact, he noted, intra-African trade accounts for only 20% of the continent’s overall trade. “The benefits of increased regional trade are not in any doubt,” he said. “They include improved food security, increased potential for regional value chains to drive exports, including to global markets and new opportunities through the growth of trade in services.”
However, Dr. Kaberuka pointed to three pervasive challenges: “Firstly, Africa’s lack of adequate hard infrastructure, in particular transport; secondly, problems with the ‘soft’ infrastructure – the institutions and regulations to facilitate trade links which includes the overall business environment; and thirdly, a myriad of firm level challenges that affect our private sector, as well as the emergence and sustainability of exports such as quality, meeting standards, access to finance.”