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Repositioning Africa’s RECs for continental integration – Abuja to sow seeds

07 Jun, 2017

Harare/Abuja, 07 June 2017 (ACBF) – Because of the centrality of Regional Economic Communities (RECs) in African integration and the implementation of the AU Agenda 2063, capacity deficits within the RECs have become worrisome to African leaders and planners.

Strikingly, two reports in the last three years published by the continent’s premier capacity building institution, the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), have shown that all the eight AU-recognized RECs have capacity deficits, making it a  situation that needs urgent action.

As a result, the ACBF together with the ECOWAS Liaison Office to the AU, and the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) are convening Africa’s RECs to a strategic retreat at the Ecowas headquarters in Abuja from 8 to 9 June 2017 to work out a roadmap that will enable the RECs to fulfil their mission of leveraging Africa’s economic transformation, especially the implementation of the first 10-year plan of Agenda 2063 as well as continental integration.

The concerned RECs are: The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Southern African Development Community (SADC), Arab Maghreb Union (UMA, in French), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD), East African Community (EAC), and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) .

In January 2015, the RECs mandated Ecowas to coordinate and lead the process of inter-REC cooperation aimed at developing a strategic planning and capacity development programme for the RECs, among others. The mandate was in recognition of Ecowas’ demonstrated commitment to working with other RECs over the years. Thus, given its unique position, the Ecowas Liaison Office to the AU has become the bridge between Ecowas and the AU and Ecowas and the other RECs.

It is in line with this mandate that the upcoming strategic retreat at the Ecowas headquarters is being held. It will be attended by senior officials of the RECs, Ecowas, ACBF and IDEA. The main speakers will include Prof. Emmanuel Nnadozie – ACBF’s Executive Secretary, Prof. Adebayo Olukoshi – IDEA’s Regional Director for Africa and West Asia; and representatives of Ecowas.

Funded by the ACBF and IDEA, the Abuja retreat will be the first step of a comprehensive strategic planning and capacity development program for the RECs, as recommended by the Report on the Institutional Reform of the AU presented by President Paul Kagame to the 28th AU Summit in January 2017. Kagame’s Report called for a revitalization and repositioning of the RECs to allow them to play their critical role as key actors of structural transformation of African economies.

The retreat is also among the initiatives designed to look for ways and means to implement the recommendations of the ACBF’s 2016 survey of the capacity needs of the RECs and strategies for addressing them.

The survey found that there was a gap in the capacities of the RECs in contributing to the structural transformation of Africa. This was not only because the RECs were at different levels of development and integration, but also because several of them were experiencing deficits in technical, planning, and political capacities to pursue a deeper continental integration agenda.

Over the last decade, many interventions by the ACBF have sought to move Africa’s regional integration agenda forward by strengthening the RECs as platforms for harmonizing policy and enhancing trade among member countries.

The Abuja retreat will therefore find practical ways of supporting the RECs in their efforts to prioritize capacity development in their action plans to facilitate the implementation of Agenda 2063, and strengthen the synergies among them for continental integration.


For more information, please contact:

Abel Akara Ticha – Senior Communication Officer
The African Capacity Building Foundation
Harare, Zimbabwe
+263 7+263-4 304663, 304622, 332002, 332014; Ext. 279

To request for interviews with ACBF’s Executive Secretary on this story, call Paul Okolo on +234 8033067567 or email him at

About the African Capacity Building Foundation

Established in 1991, ACBF builds human and institutional capacity for good governance and economic development in Africa. To date the Foundation has empowered people in governments, parliaments, civil society, private sector and higher education institutions in more than 45 countries and 6 regional economic communities. ACBF supports capacity development across Africa through mobilization and leveraging of resources for capacity development; grants, investments and fund management; knowledge services; promoting innovation in capacity development and capacity development advisory services. The establishment of ACBF was in response to the severity of Africa’s capacity needs, and the challenges of investing in indigenous human capital and institutions in Africa. ACBF interventions are premised on four principles: the centrality of capacity to the development process in Africa; the critical role of a partnership and demand-driven approach in tackling capacity challenges; African ownership and leadership in the capacity development process; and a systematic, sequenced and coordinated approach to the capacity development process that pays attention to capacity retention and utilization. For further information go to:

ACBF's financial support to our institution has helped us a great deal. We look forward to continued partnership with ACBF in pursuit of capacity building in STEM for Africa's sustainable development.

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