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Can Regional Integration Save Africa?

During the last quarter-century, global economic growth has soared, but Africa continued to lose ground. Indeed, the continent’s share of world exports fell from 4.6% in 1980 to 1.8% in 2000, and its share of world imports declined from 3.6% to 1.6% over the same period.

Africa’s share of global flows of foreign direct investment (FDI) also fell, from 1.8% in 1986-90 to 0.8% in 1999-2000. Can regional economic groupings, such as the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), help increase trade and bolster growth?