West Africa at the forefront of integration on the continent
On the occasion of African Development Week, held from 31 March to 5 April in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Union Commission (AUC) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) launched the 2016 edition of the Africa Regional Integration Index (ARII) Report. The index is intended to take stock of progress on regional integration in eight regional economic communities (RECs) through 16 indicators covering five major areas: trade integration, productive integration, regional infrastructure, free movement of people, and financial integration. West Africa's performance is analysed both in the context of both the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and in the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD), which includes the ECOWAS countries but also Chad and Mauritania. The report reveals that the region is among the leaders of integration in Africa. CEN-SAD and ECOWAS are second and third respectively in the overall rankings, after the East African Community (EAC), which ranks first. The scores are all the more indicative of the progress achieved by the West Africa in that seven countries that are among the spearheads of integration in ECOWAS are also recognised as top performers in the CEN-SAD area (Côte d’Ivoire, Togo, Senegal, Benin, Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso). ECOWAS is also the REC that shows the best performance in terms of financial and economic integration and free movement of people. However, along with CEN-SAD, ECOWAS scored lowest among the RECs in the area of productive integration. Indeed, there is significant room for improvement for all countries in the region, particularly the largest economy, Nigeria, which shows an average performance in terms of integration into its region.