, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 29 – Kenya has recorded the highest levels of economic integration in the region according to the latest Visa Africa Integration Index.
The study of 11 countries taken to be representative of the respective regional blocs – West, Southern, East and Central Africa – shows Kenya as having the highest economic integration score in the East Africa region.
“This result follows some improvement in global integration and more robust advances in regional integration as Kenya, the largest economy in that sub-region, drives broader and deeper integration in the EAC,” Jabu Basopo, General Manager for Visa in East and Southern Africa, said at the launch of the report.
The report however notes that Kenya could stand to diversify its exports outside the region to further capitalise on its economic ties.
“A greater challenge may be for the country to broaden existing relationships with economies outside of the region through a greater diversification of products and partnerships. Currently, more than one third of Kenya’s global merchandise trade is represented by three products: tea, cut fresh flowers and raw coffee. These trade flows are dominated by three countries: the United States, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.”
There is also opportunity for Kenya, the report states, for Kenya to boost its trade with its neighbours. “There is still substantial opportunity for Kenya to deepen its regional economic relationships in all the areas in which it is already active. This bodes well for Kenya and the East African cluster as there appears to be easy wins from pursuing existing relationships,” Basopo observed.
Regional integration has been at the fore of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration which has sought to sell the East African Community as a single market to potential investors.
President Kenyatta who has at times been dubbed a tourist, by his own admission, has over the last three years of his administration done so through reciprocated visits to traditional partners and new ones.
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Continent wide, South Africa scores highest amongst the 11 countries for global integration with a score of 80.6 while Kenya was second with a score of 57.2 and Uganda third with a score of 46.6.
The 11 countries surveyed by Visa in conjunction with Professor Adrian Saville, Visiting Professor of Economics at the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) in Johannesburg were Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, South Africa, Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Nigeria and Ghana.
“The 11 constituent countries are highly representative of the region, with a combined population of 504 million people, or 55 percent of the total population at the end of 2012. The combined GDP of the 11 countries that make up the Index measured 1,405 trillion US Dollars in 2015, equal to more than three-quarters of the region’s total output,” the report defends.
And with the four key metrics used to measure integration being: the flow of goods and services or trade, financial integration and the movement of capital, the flow of information and knowledge and the movement of people.