Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has called for greater integration of African economies to enable the continent develop free trade among African Union member nations and develop itself.
Osinbajo made the call over the weekend at the inaugural meeting of the Africa Champions Group, an initiative of business and manufacturing stakeholders in the public and private sector of the continent, over the weekend in Lagos.
He said regional integration was a necessary requirement for the continent’s development but had remained at a very low level.
“We still have one of the lowest trade integration levels under 20 per cent while Asia is at 40 per cent and European integration is very much further ahead at about 60 per cent. The fact remains that other regions play as a bloc but Africa is still largely splintered into several economies and the ease of doing business across the region remains a significant challenge,” he said.
Osinbajo, however, observed that flowing from agenda 2063 of the AU the entire thing was changing.
He noted that the Continents Free Trade Area Initiative (CFTA), launch of the African passport and free movement of persons showed how the continent intended to grow in regional integration, which also showed how quickly the continent could move.
Osinbajo noted that it was obvious that Afican giants had sprang up in manufacturing, banking sector and in telecommunications.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo expressed appreciation and commendation for the initiative and added that while the initiative had put the private and public sectors together, it needed to integrate the financial institutions.
He thanked the Vice President for attending the inaugural meeting, adding that his presence gave impetus to the partnership.
Obasanjo noted that the inaugural meeting was good and noted that one of the things that had not been done well in Africa was to sustain initiatives.