Regional Groups are the associations of countries around a particular region whereby these countries have common grounds of understanding and perspectives regarding rules and regulations to be followed when relating with one another. These groups have rules that set them apart from non-members.
Intergovernmental authority on development (IGAD)IGADs sole purpose is to enhance regional liaison in three specific areas, that is, Food security and environmental protection, Economic cooperation, Regional integration and social development and peace and security. IGAD was established during a summit held by heads of state between 25th and 26th November 1996 to replace the trade bloc, Intergovernmental Authority on Drought and Development (IGADD) which was founded in 1986. IGADD was founded to completely eradicate the recurring threat of severe droughts and other natural disasters that caused a widespread disaster in East Africa. The first member states which include; Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda took it upon themselves with the help of the United Nations to establish a body to help control the crisis in the region.
Following the successful creation of the IGAD, other states like Eritrea joined in 1993 as well as South Sudan in 2011. Together with the UN, heads of state and other state representatives aimed and continue to aim to resolve the ever growing political and socio-economic challenges faced within the region in order to create better living conditions for the people. Common market for Eastern & Southern Africa (COMESA) COMESA began in December 1994 as it was formed to replace the Preferential Trade Area (PTA) which had existed from around 1981. COMESA was therefore established ‘as an organisation of free independent sovereign states which have agreed to co-operate in developing their natural and human resources for the good of all their people’ (COMESA treaty, 1994) with a wide-range of objectives which promote peace and security in the Eastern and Southern region. Although, the achievement of trade promotion is their main objective, COMESA has other objectives to ensure the region maximises on trade. These are: Trade liberalisation and customs co-operation, to improve transport and communications channels between countries to facilitate the movement of goods and services, creating a workable environment and legal framework hence encouraging the growth of the private sector, the establishment of a secure investment environment, and the use of macro-economic and monetary policies throughout the region.
COMESA consists of 21 member states as of July 2018 which comprise of:Kenya, Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, Libya, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kingdom of Eswatini, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.East African Community (EAC)The sole purpose of EAC is to gradually establish among themselves a Customs Union, a Common Market, a Monetary Union, and ultimately a Political Federation of the East African States.
Before the EAC was established, the three member states had integration arrangements that saw the history and the development of the community. The changes seen were: Customs Union between Kenya and Uganda (1917), Tanganyika (the now Tanzania) later joined in 1927; East African High Commission (1948-1961); East African Common Services Organisation (1961-1967); East African Community (1967-1977) and East African Co-operation (1993-2000).The East African Community (EAC) was originally founded in 1967 and later dissolved in 1977 later after being revived by a treaty that established the East African Community. The three member states established strong economic cooperation which paved way for further political, economic and social integration of the EAC member States. However, Burundi and Rwanda later became members in 2007 while South Sudan gained adjunction in April 2016 completing the union of communities. New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) NEPAD is an economic development program of the African Union which was sanctioned on July 2001 in Zambia at the 37th assembly of the Heads of State and Government. NEPAD was as a result of the merging of two sustainable economic plans for Africa; the Millennium Partnership for the African Recovery Programme (MAP) and the OMEGA Plan for Africa.
NEPAD aims to provide an overarching vision and policy framework for accelerating economic co-operation and integration among African countries. NEPAD has brought forth four primary objectives: to eradicate poverty, promote sustainable growth and development, integrate Africa in the world economy and accelerate the empowerment of women. The above principles are then used to create commitment therefore promoting and maintaining good governance, democracy, human rights and conflict resolution. However, this has continually remained a challenge and in order to maintain these standards the program aims to create a conducive environment to achieve long-term economic development and growth. The program consists of 20 member states with 5 initiating states: Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and 15 members elected on the foundation of the African union’s five regions (Central, East, West, North and Southern Africa): Cameroon, Chad, Congo, Gabon, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, Libya, Mauritania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Benin and Mali.
Regional groups and Food Security
Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary.
Background to the development of food security
The overall objective of the regarding cooperation in agriculture and rural development is the achievement of food security and rational agricultural production through attaining food security through increased agricultural production, processing, storage and marketing. There are two forms of food security policy:
a) Food self-sufficiency, which requires that all food needs are fulfilled by means of domestic production.
b) Self-reliance, which argues that availability of food is most important either produced domestically or international trade.
Constraints in achieving food security
a) Low and unstable production and productivity occasioned by over-reliance on rain-fed agricultural production systems.
b) Low surface water storage per capita in the region.
The Need for Regional Policy and Standards for Food Security
In the regional perspective required to accelerate food security is currently hampered by the frequent imposition of export bans. The regional groupings come together to make policies that ensure trade is not levied in the region hence encouraging agricultural production and hence food security. Critical Infrastructure in the Rural Areas The Regional Groupings have done a commendable job at investment to build new, and upgrade infrastructure along the main transportation corridors have led to reduction of marketing costs due to easier access. Furthermore, rural roads connect the national and regional roads and railways to the production areas increasing the efficiency of consolidation of cargo in general.
Development of Agro-industries for Value-addition Processing
Value-adding agro-processing of food commodities increases food security in four major ways; namely:
i) Reduction of post-harvest losses.
ii) Extending the shelf-life of food, making most food especially perishables tradable and easier to move over long.
iii) Enhance incomes and creation of employment along the food chain from production to marketing;
iv) Improving the quality and safety of foods through appropriate certification, traceability systems and harmonization of standards, thus improving access to markets.
Development of Insurance Instruments
Insurance is one of the means for mitigating the financial effects of risks associated with variability of weather and prices. Its main purpose is to provide monetary means of offsetting losses suffered by producers and other agro-entrepreneurs in the case of severe and catastrophic weather events such as drought and floods.
Maximum Utilization of Resources
The regions are endowed with ample land which to some extent are under-utilized. Opening up the underutilized lands will call for increased productivity of livestock systems and agricultural production as they are the most dominant and feasible systems. This will help booster the food in the region and hence promote food security.
Africa is home to many rivers and lakes and most of the underutilized land in the region is due to the dry conditions hence no farming can take place. The Regional Groupings have focused on Civil Engineering to help create channels in-order to transport water from rivers and lakes into the farm fields in-order to make agriculture possible which will result into increase in food in the region hence ensuring food security in the region.
Regional groups and Good Governance
Good governance is a term used to refer to how public institutions conduct public affairs and manage public resources. Moreover, it is an approach that focuses on creating a system founded in justice and peace and that protects human rights and civil liberties. According to the United Nations, good governance can be measured by eight factors namely; Participation, Transparency, Responsiveness, Rule of law, Equity and Inclusiveness, Accountability, Effectiveness and Efficiency and Consensus oriented. Participation requires that all groups in a state are represented in the governing bodies and have access to all systems of government. Transparency requires that the citizens have access to the means and methods in which decisions are made and the information provided must be clear and easily understandable by all groups. Rule of law means that there is an impartial legal system that defends the citizen’s human rights and civil liberties, especially those of vulnerable groups. This is usually seen by the presence of an independent judiciary which is free of corruption and political influence. Equity and Inclusiveness means that all the members of the community feel empowered enough to improve their well-being. This is especially targeting the vulnerable groups. Accountability requires that the government is accountable to the people and to one another. This means that all members of the private sector, government agencies and civil society are accountable to one another.
Effectiveness and Efficiency means that the resources are used in a sustainable manner for the benefit of the society as a whole. This includes maintaining natural resources and ensuring that they are available to future generations.
Oriented meaning that the government should be able to reach a middle ground between the varying different, diverse opinions and needs of the citizens it governs. These factors show that good governance is necessary within the member-states of regional groups in order to facilitate for the economic, social and political activities to take place. Good governance also creates a sense of order which promotes peace and stability within the regions. Peace and Stability are among the major goals of NEPAD as it aims to spearhead the African Renaissance which would require good conditions for economic and social growth to take place. In addition, IGAD is aiming to establish a governance forum. The IGAD Governance Architecture is envisioned to cover the relevant continental instruments that focus on governance, democracy, elections and human rights. IGA, once fully established and operational, will create a framework and provide guidance for IGAD’s programme on promoting good governance in the region.
Regional Groups and Economic Growth
Economic growth is simply an increase in the amount of goods and services produced per head of the population over a period of time. The economic growth is closely related to the industrial structure, health, demography and income distribution of the economy. The most used measure for national economic growth is the change in Gross Domestic Product (GDP). GDP measures the value added of all goods and services produced in the economy. The production of goods and services generates primary incomes for households and another method of measuring GDP is therefore to add up all incomes.
Economic growth in relation to COMESA
The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) bloc, which is a free trade area with twenty member states, remains the fastest growing economy in the world despite a drop in overall growth, according to a recent newsletter published by the organisation. The newsletter states that five of its member stats recorded the highest levels of growth between 2014 and 2015, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda which all recorded 5-10 percent growth. The growth was due to increased private consumption and investment, and the average overall investment as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) in COMESA increased from 24.6percent to 2014 to 26.3 percent in 2015. However, investments in COMESA-member countries remained below 20 percent of the GDP because most people in the region are not part of a formal financial system that encourages investment.
Economic growth in relation to IGAD
The macroeconomic performance of IGAD economies in the last fifteen years has been mixed. While most countries performed better than the African average growth rates, some have performed worse than the continental average. Ethiopia, Sudan and Uganda performed better than the African average of 5.1 percent between 2000 and 2015. The performance of Kenya and Djibouti was worse than that of the African average; while that of Eritrea, Somalia and South Sudan was not compared on account of incomplete data.
Economic growth in relation to EAC
East Africa recorded the continent’s best economic performance in 2017, with a GDP growth of 5.9 per cent — above the continental average of 3.6 per cent. This growth was achieved in a year that saw the region’s economic fortunes dip, as several companies keen to lower costs and post profits turned to staff cuts. The year also saw a high cost and slowdown of credit, reduced spending power, higher cost of living and non-performing loans, pushing firms to rethink their strategy and cut costs, with employees becoming the easy targets. According to the 2018 African Development Bank East African Economic Outlook report released on Wednesday, East Africa’s growth was driven by Rwanda, Ethiopia and Kenya. While real GDP grew at an estimated 5.9 per cent, there were considerable country variations.
Economic growth in NEPAD
NEPAD is an economic development programme of the African Union. It was adopted at the 37th session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government in July 2001 in Lusaka, Zambia with the aim to address critical challenges facing the continent: poverty, development and Africa’s marginalization internationally. The six priority areas of NEPAD include: Agriculture and Food Security; Climate Change and National Resource Management; Regional Integration and Infrastructure; Human Development; Economic and Corporate Governance; Cross-cutting Issues, including Gender, Capacity Development and ICT.