The Minimum Integration Programme (MIP) is a mechanism for the convergence of the Regional Economic Communities (RECs), formulated on the basis of a number of priority areas to be implemented at regional and continental levels. Enabling the RECs to strengthen their cooperation and benefit from one another’s comparative advantages, best practices and experiences in the area of integration. It forms the missing link between the Abuja Treaty and its realization.
The integration approach geared to the establishment of the African Economic Community (AEC) set forth by the Abuja Treaty was regional in orientation, and was anchored on the RECs, which constitute the pillars and building blocks of the Community. These regional communities have made tremendous progress in their respective domains since they were created, but the pace of implementation of programmes is still slow and needs the support of a broad range of integration players.
The slow performance by some of the RECs can be explained by the enormous challenges they are facing such us shortage of financial and human resources; membership of numerous Member States to more than one REC; inadequate physical infrastructure; in some cases a lack of coherence and correlation between sector cooperation programmes and the macro-economic policies implemented by RECs; lack of political will; poor institutional infrastructure; inadequate coordination among Pan-African institutions; and lack of cohesion vis-à-vis the numerous development partners, etc.
The above difficulties, stifling and constraining as they are, provide the raison d’être of and, indeed, justify the importance of the mandate given to the African Union Commission (AUC) by the competent authorities of the African Union (AU) to elaborate a Minimum Integration Programme (MIP) not only to overcome the difficulties outlined but also to infuse greater visibility into the implementation of the regional and continental integration agenda.
The MIP Action Plan is the instrument which was developed, in collaboration with the RECs, for the implementation of the MIP and its is of capital importance because it builds consensus around the activities and projects to be executed to speed up the regional and continental integration process; it gives visibility to the process and clarifies the relationships between stakeholders or players in terms of policy coordination and harmonization.
Conclusion and Way Forward: It is anticipated that after having concluded this initial consultation with AUC Departments, the costing will be refined further through a consultative meeting with the Regional Economic Communities (RECs), to ascertain whether the figures are realistic, the inputs prudent, and the entire aggregate costs agreeable as well as agree on the next stages of the process, particularly the resource mobilization strategy.
After which, and upon finalization, the MIP Action Plan will be submitted to the Ministers at the Fifth Conference of African Ministers in charge of Integration (COMAI V) for final adoption. The Action Plan will be then formally be published. It is expected that the resource mobilization strategy will incorporate, amongst others, the following:
* A meeting with development partners to present, showcase and invite support for the implementation of the MIP Action Plan;
* Presentation of the MIP Action Plan to various relevant fora such as the annual private Sector Forum, the African Partnership Forum (APF), as well as other fora that are deemed appropriate.
The costing exercise for the MIP Action Plan provides an overview on the financial needs of the African Union, in the context of integration, to implement activities agreed upon within the selected priorities of the MIP Action Plan.
* Readers can access the report, 12 pages, here. The full set of conference documentation, including the Follow-Up Report on the Implementation of Recommendations from the Fourth Conference of African Ministers in charge of Integration (COMAI IV) and the FIRST ACTION PLAN FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE MINIMUM INTEGRATION PROGRAMME, can be accessed from the conference website, here.