It costs more to move a container from Kenya to Burundi than from Belgium or the United Kingdom to Kenya. Twenty percent of Africa’s international infrastructure networks, such as the Trans-African Highway network, are impassable. Flight connectivity is the lowest in the world and centered on only about 328 hubs for a land mass of around 11.7 million square miles, making it time consuming and costly to travel between African countries (United Nations Statistics Division, 2016).
Although the pan-African ideal has been part of the continent’s modern history since the struggles for independence in Europeanruled African territories in the 1950s and 60s, African leaders never succeeded in translating this ideal into political capital. Attempts at real integration have so far yielded only mixed results.
A series of initiatives dating to 1980—the Lagos Plan of Action, the Abuja Treaty, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, and the more recent Agenda 2063—were each heralded as the economic response to Africa’s need for a new, more interconnected future. Why is it proving to be so painfully difficult to implement this vision of a truly integrated continent?
Economic Commission for Africa, the African Union Commission, and the African Development Bank, 2016, Africa Regional Integration Index Database (Addis Ababa).
Economic Commission for Africa, the African Union Commission, and the African Development Bank, 2012, Assessing Regional Integration in Africa V: Towards an African Continental Free Trade Area (Addis Ababa).