, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 25 – Kenya’s level of economic integration is the second highest in Africa according the 2014 Visa Africa Integration Index Report.
The report also ranks Kenya the second fastest rising country in the level of economic integration behind Rwanda having moved up four places from 51 in 2013 to 55 in 2014 out of 100 points, while Rwanda moved seven points from 40 points in 2013 to 47 points.
Releasing the report, Cannon Asset Managers Chief Investment Officer Adrianna Saville attributed the growth to some improvement in global integration and more robust advances in regional integration.
“What has worked particularly well for Kenya’s growth is the progress of the East African Community (EAC), but for the EAC to be effective, it’s imperative that they are able to transact across borders, and the transaction across borders means you have to have good protection of property rights, “he said.
Saville says that despite the progress recorded in the EAC in the recent years, there is still substantial opportunity for the country to deepen its regional economic relationships in all areas in which it is already active.
Last year the East African Community launched a single visa where Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda adopted a joint visa that will facilitate free movement to tourist and citizens alike.
Saville said the country also need to broaden its existing relationships with economies outside the region through diversification of products and partnerships as more than one thirds of global merchandise trade is represented by tea, cut fresh flowers and raw coffee.
The trade flows are dominated by three countries that include the United States, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.
According to the report, Kenya’s depth (open and highly connected) of global integration is far greater than the depth of regional integration but the breadth (diversification of products) of the country’s economic relationships with its neighbours is far stronger than its breadth with the rest of the world.
South Africa is the most integrated economy in Africa, with a global integration score of 39.1 out of 50.0 points and a regional integration score of 24.2 out of 50 producing a final index of 63.3 out of 100.
Angola is the least integrated economy in the country.
“There are low levels of intra-Africa flows and regional integration that, like low levels of global integration, are a key reason for Africa’s poor economic record, Africa needs to trade and become more integrated in global value chains if it is to harness its natural potential and stimulate wealth and prosperity,” he said.
On his part Visa East and Southern Africa General Manager Jabu Basopo said there is growing evidence that supports the argument that cross – border interactions or openness drives economic growth and socio-economic advancement.
“It is widely expected that buyout economic growth will continue for the foreseeable future and it is likely that the African economy will achieve a growth rate approaching 5.5 percent in 2014 with a collective gross domestic product of over $1.9 trillion, “Basopo said.