Editor’s Note: On January 9, Amadou Sy testified before the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations on the African Economic Community. Chairman Smith, Ranking Member Bass, and Members of the Subcommittee, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for convening this important hearing to discuss Africa’s progress towards establishing an economic community. I appreciate the invitation to share my views on behalf of the Africa Growth Initiative at the Brookings Institution.
The Africa Growth Initiative at the Brookings Institution delivers high-quality research on issues of economic growth and development from an African perspective to better inform policy research. I have recently joined AGI from the International Monetary Fund’s where I led or participated in a number of missions to Africa over the past 15 years.
Why is the African Economic Community Important?
Mr. Chairman, before we start answering the main question, “Will there be an Africa Economic Community?” it is important to look at the reasons why a regionally integrated Africa is beneficial to African nations as well as the United States.
In spite of its remarkable economic performance over the past decade, Africa needs to grow faster in order to transform its economy and create the resources needed to reduce poverty. Over the past 10 years, sub-Saharan Africa’s real GDP grew by 5.6 percent per year, a much faster rate than the world economy, which grew by 3.2 percent. At this rate of 5.6 percent, the region should double the size of its economy in about 13 years. However, Africa remains vulnerable to both internal risks such as armed conflicts and external risks such as volatile commodity prices. More importantly, this rate of growth still hides important disparities among countries and falls short of the level needed to achieve the structural transformation that countries such as China have achieved.