Africa must increase competitiveness or jeopardise future growth, the Africa Competitiveness Report 2013, has warned.
It said the strides made by African economies in achieving economic growth must be accompanied by efforts to boost long-term competitiveness if the continent is to ensure sustainable improvements in living standards.
The report, on the theme: “Connecting Africa’s Markets in a Sustainable Way,” jointly produced by the African Development Bank, the World Bank and the World Economic Forum, made available to the Ghana News Agency yesterday, assesses prospects for sustainable growth of 38 African countries.
It said regional integration was the key vehicle for helping Africa to raise competitiveness, diversifying its economic base and creating enough jobs for its young, fast-urbanising population.
The report maps out the key policy challenges in establishing a closer regional integration and identifies closer regional integration as an important driver for enhancing competitiveness.
It held that Africa’s competitiveness as a whole trails other emerging regions – especially in the quality of institutions, infrastructure, macroeconomic policies, education and technological adoption – while big gaps persists between its highest and lowest ranked economies.
The report also looks at Africa’s success in creating the social and environmental factors that are necessary to address these gaps.
It said Africa’s exports remain too heavily focused on commodities and its share of world trade remains low, despite numerous regional economic communities and domestic market liberalization.
The report identifies cumbersome and non-transparent border administration, particularly import-export procedure, the limited use of Information Communication Technologies (ICT) and persistent infrastructure deficit as major barriers to higher levels of regional integration.
It also shows that, these challenges are particularly pronounced for Africa’s landlocked economies.
It said Africa’s infrastructure deficit presents a serious impediment to regional integration, a problem that was made more pronounced by growth in consumer markets and urbanisation.
The report said developing adequate and efficient infrastructure would assist African economies to increase productivity in manufacturing and service delivery, contribute to improvements in health and education and help ensure a more equitable distribution of national wealth.
It examines how developments in energy, transportation and ICT can be deployed to maximise the benefits of regional integration and looks at how best practice can be deployed to deliver further benefits across the continent.