Intra-African Trade and Competitiveness in Africa

  • Emeka Osuji Pan Atlantic University, Lagos
Keywords: Trade, Economic integration, Intra-regional trade, Competitiveness


This paper investigates the competitiveness of the African continent by studying the impact of relevant intra-African trade indices on the competitiveness of the continent, based on a panel dataset spanning 2000 to 2016. The results show considerable variations in trade performance and competitiveness. Intra-African trade, especially in exports, over the study period, was consistently low. While the South Africa region had the highest intra-regional trade in imports, East Africa region had the highest level of inter-regional imports. West Africa, with Nigeria’s dominance, had the highest level of intra-regional exports, while South Africa had the highest inter-regional exports at country level. For the Regional Economic Communities (RECs), SADC reported the highest intra-African import trades, while SACU reported the highest inter-regional imports. SADC has the highest intra-African exports, while COMESA has the highest inter-regional exports. African Competitiveness Index (ACI) ranking puts the East Africa region on top, and South Africa as the most competitive African economy. The results were mixed but plausible. All the variables were correctly signed and significant in different regions, reflecting the huge structural and policy disparities among the regions. Continued transformation of African economies with emphasis on both physical and financial infrastructure, and human capital development is advised, as it will enhance intra-African trade and regional competitiveness.


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