Brussels, 17 February 2014/ ACP: The plethora of organisations targeting regional integration in the East African zone has been highlighted as an area of concern by members of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA).

Following its 11th regional meeting, held in Mauritius for the East African region last week, the JPA released a communiqué calling for “the harmonisation and rationalisation of regional integration processes, given the multiple and overlapping memberships of regional organisations, which could compromise the objective of integration.”

Several such groups are currently operating in the region, including for instance the East African Community (EAC), the Common market for Eastern and Southern States (COMESA), the Intergovernmental Authority on Development ( IGAD) and the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC).

“The East African region has the largest number of regional integration bodies in Africa, and all the countries typically belong to more than one organisation. This situation indeed calls for a coordination mechanism,” said JPA Co-President Hon. Fitz Jackson, adding that the diversity of economies and poor regional infrastructure were key challenges.

Meanwhile, JPA Vice President Hon. Patrice Tirolien praised the vision of an African common market proposed by past leaders, but added that it has so far only seen the emergence of overlapping regional groupings, leading to “institutional inefficiency hampering the integration process”.

“The battle of Africa was and still is for economic integration,” he said.

However, Hon. Tirolien was optimistic of the 2008 decision by Heads of States to create a free trade agreement between 26 countries in Easter and Southern Africa, slated for completion in 2017.

JPA Members stressed the “crucial importance” of regional integration in creating an enabling environment for economic growth, employment, development and poverty reduction.

They noted the financial support from the EU towards regional integration, but added that the ACP-EU economic agreements currently being negotiated should also support the integration process.

The three-day meeting concluded on 14th February, bringing together parliamentarians from 15 East African countries and peers from the EU to discuss key issues faced by the region.

– ACP Press

(Photo: Meeting participants/ ACP-EU JPA Co-Secretariat EU)

See also official statements by:

Abdool Razack Mohamed Ameen Peeroo, GOSK, SC, Speaker of the National Assembly of Mauritiusl
Fitz A. Jackson, Co-President of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly
Patrice Tirolien, Vice President of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (FR)
Rajkeswur Purryag, GCSK, GOSK, President of the Republic of Mauritius