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Kenya is the Best Performer in Regional Integration in Africa

FINANCIAL STANDARD
By Dominic Omondi | April 12th 2016

NAIROBI: Kenya is among the best performers in regional integration in the continent, a new index has shown.

In the Africa Regional Integration Index (ARII), the first index of its kind that measures the continent’s level of trade integration, Kenya topped in three of the four regional economic communities (RECs) in which it is a member.

Save for the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD), Kenya was the best performer in regional integration in the East African Community (EAC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) and the Inter-governmental Authority on Development (Igad).

The country scored highly in trade integration, meaning its level of customs duty on imports was low, and it also had a huge share of intra-regional trade goods.

However, trade between Kenya and the East African states of Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi has been jolted by increased imports of cheap Chinese products into the region.

Still, the country was listed among those that have been active in connecting customs operations, liberalising tariff lines and making it simpler to measure non-tariff barriers.

The country also scored highly in productive integration, free movement of people, and financial and macro-economic integration.

The index is a collaborative effort between the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Union Commission (AUC) and the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

FIVE MEASURES

Countries or RECs are assigned scores on a scale of 0.0 to 1.0.

ARII was created using five dimensions: regional infrastructure, regional trade, productive integration, free movement of people, and financial and macro-economic integration.

These five dimensions are broken further into 16 factors, including proportion of intra-regional flights, total regional electricity trade, average cost of roaming, regional convertibility of currency, proportion of REC countries whose members are issued with visas on arrival, and ratification (or not) of protocols on free movement of people.

East Africa was classified the best REC in regional integration. Within the EAC, however, Tanzania was the poorest performer as far as preparedness for integration is concerned.

According to a World Bank report, Migration and Remittances Fact Book 2016, Tanzania to Kenya, Tanzania to Uganda and Tanzania to Rwanda are some of the most expensive corridors for receiving remittances of $200 (Sh20,200).

Analysts have argued that Africa’s economic future lies in regional trade integration amid concerns that its participation in multilateral trade under the auspices of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has not really benefited the continent.

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